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Old 06-22-2017, 09:23 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Next one, and Prada finds out about her sister....anyone recognize the shout-out?



335th TFS Offices, 1650 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, going over some last-minute paperwork before going to the Officer's Club. Nothing major, he was glad to see, though he did wish that the elves would take care of it while he was out. He'd learned in his tenure as XO that the paper warriors could not be ignored, despite what one wished, and though they were not as numerous as they were in peacetime, that species of pest was still a problem. Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, had taught him some ways of dealing with bureaucrats, though no doubt every squadron and wing commander had the same attitude that he had: yank those pests from behind their desks, transfer them to the Army, give them rifles, and send them to the front lines. Or, if that wasn't possible, have them shoveling snow at someplace like Loring or Goose Bay. Ah, well, one could dream, he thought.

He'd finished with what was in his IN box and then went to work on something that had just come up, when there was a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself.”

Capt. Mark Ellis, the Exec, came in with a clipboard. “Boss, got a few things here.”

“What have we got?” Guru asked, looking up from a paper he had just filled out.

“Aircraft status report. We'll have twenty for the morning. And before you ask, Don's bird needs a hundred-hour check.”

The CO nodded. “Okay.....yours and Frank's just got out of that, right?”

“Right on that, Boss,” Ellis replied.

Guru thought for a moment. “All right, then. You get your bird back, and give the one you flew today to Kerry. Frank gets his back, and Don takes the other Euro One bird.”

“I'll let Don know, and he'll take care of that.”

“Good. What else have you got?”

“Supply requesitions,” the XO said. “The stuff we need to get Kerry's bird back in the air.”

Guru signed the forms. “Gladly. Now, get Ross to turn the scroungers loose. Give them the same list Supply's getting, and they have a hunting license. If the clowns in Supply deliver, well and good. If not...”

“Got you. And the usual rules apply.”

“They do. No felony arrests, no one gets hurt, and best of all, nobody gets caught.”

Ellis nodded. “I'll get him going.”

“Good.” the CO said. He put the papers he had been working on into an envelope and sealed it. “This goes out to Tenth Air Force in tomorrow's mail. DFC citations for Kerry and Pat for bringing their bird back.”

“They deserve it,” Ellis nodded. “Speaking of Tenth Air Force, that C-21 came in. Don took the gun-camera tapes and gave it to the crew. They stayed long enough to refuel, then took off back to Nellis.”

“Those were the originals, right?” Guru asked, and he saw Ellis nod. “Okay, so Yeager's people made copies. Our newsies get the word about the blackout being official?”

“Kodak Griffith said they did. Weren't too happy, but Ms. Wendt went to do a sit-down with General Yeager. I'll bet you the minute that blackout expires, they send the story to Sydney.”

“And L.A.,” Guru reminded him. “They also send stuff to CBS, remember?”

“Forgot about that,” Ellis said. “And the weather update. No change for at least five days.”

Guru read the sheet. “Swell. Forget about any stand-down for at least that long.”

“Too bad.”

“Some things you have to live with,” Guru said as he stood up. He glanced at the office clock. 1705. “Now we're off the clock.” He picked up the folder Sin Licon had given him. “Let's hit the Club. I need a cold one, and food.”

“And we get to watch Kerry and Pat get drunk, while they try and forget about nearly getting killed today,” the Exec said. By the tone of his voice, it wasn't a question.

“Something like that.”

“And you don't have to write any letters today.”

“That, I'll gladly drink to.”


When the CO and XO got to the Club, they found Colonel Brady already at the bar, and keeping an eye not only on several of his Marines, but also Kerry Collins and Pat McCorkle. “Colonel,” Guru said with a nod.

“Major,” Brady replied. “The Mess people won't be too long, which is a good thing. Right now, five of my Marines and your two are racing each other to get drunk. Seems your guys weren't alone in getting shot up today.”

Guru and Mark looked at each other. “Colonel, may I ask where?” Guru asked.

“Same area: Star Hollow Lake. They're protecting something important.”

“Or someone-sir.” Ellis said. “Could be an Army Commander.”

“That's what my intel thinks,” Brady said. “Anyway, that's for tomorrow. What's in the folder?”

Guru opened the folder and showed him. “I could have shown her on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not the time or place.”

“Good thinking, Major,” Brady said as General Olds came in, and he was talking with several 335th aircrew. “What are you going to say?”

“First, sir, I need to talk with General Yeager,” Guru said as the barkeep came over. “Smitty, any Sam Adams come in?”

“Sorry, Major,” Smitty replied. “Only two bottles left.”

“Then Bud,” Guru said. “And one for the Exec.”

Smitty nodded, and produced the bottles. “Here you go, Major.'

“Thanks,” Guru said. He paid the barkeep, then glanced over at his two people. “How many have they had?”

“Working on their second already, Major,” Smitty said. “Each.”

“No more until they get something to eat,” Guru said firmly. He turned to Collins and McCorkle. “Hear that?”

“Loud and clear, Major,” Collins said, Capt. Ryan Blanchard, the OINC of their Combat Security Police detachment, nodded agreement. She was his girlfriend, and she would watch him like a hawk.

McCorkle grumbled, “Yes, sir.”

“Good,” Guru said as General Yeager and his people came in, with the news crew following. “Those guys are still the stars today.”

Ellis nodded. “Well, Boss, maybe we can get Ms. Wendt to talk to Kerry and Pat-that is, before they get too drunk.”

“Or when they're sober,” Guru said. He noticed that Goalie, Kara, and the rest of his flight had gotten a table. “Colonel, if you'll excuse me, I need to get started on my own 'Stress reduction.' It's been a hell of a day.”

Brady nodded. “It has been that, Major.”


Guru went over to the table and sat down. “Well, don't know whether to be pissed or be thankful. Or both.”

“Why's that, Boss?” Kara asked as she got started on her first beer.

“Pissed that General Yeager and his people got into a fight, or thankful that General Dugan hasn't called.”

“Better if it's both,” Hoser said. “Uh, Boss.”

“I'll drink to that,” Goalie said, and she poked her pilot in the arm.

“Guess I will,” Guru said. “Hell of a day.” Then he started on his beer. “Any newspapers come in on the C-141?”

Sweaty nodded, then produced the papers. “USA Today, Stars and Stripes, L.A. Times, take your pick.”

Guru and Goalie shared the L.A., and passed the sports page to Hoser. “Anything in USA Today that leaps out?”

“More protests in West Germany,” Kara said. “They had 100,000 in Dusseldorf.”

“Same thing here,” Guru said. “100,000 also in Munich.”

Heads nodded at that. “Good,” Dave Golen said from the table next to the CO's. “Only a matter of time.” And General Olds, who was sitting with Dave, nodded his agreement.

“Hear, hear,” several people said.

Just then, the mess people arrived. “People, we've got either grilled pork chops or Salisbury Steak, with all the fixn's,” one of the local restaurateurs turned Marine Mess Officer said. “Come and get it.”

After people got what they wanted, the CBS Evening News came on. Unlike the previous day, this was a slow news day, even with the war going on, though coverage of the protests in West Germany-and now in Belgium and Holland as well, led the news coming from overseas. And the brewing affair in Philly over Senator Proxmire's aides finding themselves in very hot water over back-channel contacts with the Cuban Embassy in Paris.

“How long until Proxcreep gets the heave-ho?” Cosmo asked from a table where she and Revlon were talking with Ms. Wendt and her crew.

“Hope he gets the message,” said Don Van Loan. “Time for him to take a hike.”

“I'll drink to that,” Cosmo said. As an astronomy major, she had very good reason to loathe the Senator' who had a fondness for cutting NASA budgets, while others despised him for his anti-military attitude.

“Same here,” Kara said.

After Walter Cronkite signed off, the bartender turned the TV to ESPN, where a rerun of ABC's Wide World of Sports was playing. “Well, that's that,” Goalie said. “Slow day in the big picture.”

“But not for us,” Guru nodded.


A few minutes later, as the clock wound towards 1800, Colonel Brady went to the bar and rang the bell. “People, we've got exactly one hour left before the twelve-hour rule kicks in, and there are a few people here who have a right to get happily loaded. First, several folks from either the Marines or the 335th came back with shot-up birds, and well, you people have a right to get sloppy drunk. You've got an hour left, so make the most of it!” The tent roared with laughter. “Major Wiser? You've got some Air Force business, I believe?”

Guru nodded, then went to the bar. “Thank you, sir. Well, Kerry, Pat? You guys did good, bringing your bird back after some kasha-eating son of a bitch put a few flak holes in it. And take my advice, from someone who's been there, done that? Be glad you're not camping with the Resistance. Or, worse, holed up somewhere, waiting for Jolly Green to get you, evading, or a lot worse, behind barbed wire, eating Kasha and Borscht. So drink up!”

“Glad to, Major,” Collins said.

“Just remember: you're on the flight schedule in the morning. So remember twelve-hour, and hit the sack when Doc calls curfew.”

“Will do, Boss,” Pat McCorkle grinned.

Guru nodded, then turned to where General Yeager and his people were seated. “General? Your young pups proved themselves in the air-to-ground arena, and today? They showed us what they can do air-to-air. And sir, you may have set a record for the longest gap between kills. Because, people? He got a Yak-28 recon bird in that little furball. So, General? Here's to number 12.5.” Guru raised his beer botle.

“Just in the right place at the right time, Major,” Yeager replied in his West Virginia drawl. “You're probably glad the Chief of Staff hasn't chewed your ass over the phone.”

“Chewed his ass yet.” Sweaty muttered.

Preacher nodded, then said, “There's always tomorrow.”

Kara shook her head. “Remember, guys, it's Frank we want packing for Goose Bay.”

“We know that,” Sweaty shot back. “It's just, well....surprising the Boss hasn't gotten an over-the-phone ass-chewing.”

“Maybe General Tanner calmed him down,” Goalie ventured.

Guru went on. “General, one of your pups made ace today. Prada? Stand up and be recognized.” Prada did, and Guru said, “You got number five today, and no matter what happens from now on, you're a certified, card-carrying aerial assassin, and for damn sure, no one can take that away from you!”

“Thanks, Major,” Prada said to the roar of the crowd.

“Enjoy the moment, Captain,” Guru said. “Now, some 335th business. Cosmo? Revlon? Stand up.”

“Uh-oh,” several people muttered.

“You two splashed the only MiG to get away from the F-20 furball,” Guru said, and there was some applause at that. “Now, that gives you two three kills. Two more and not only do you two make ace, but you'll be the only all-female ace team not just in the 335th, but hell, probably the whole Air Force for all we know. This place will rock when that happens. But one piece of advice: when you get to number four? No trolling for MiGs! You might just run into somebody looking for his fifth. So be careful, you two.”

The two looked at each other and grinned. “Noted, Major,” Cosmo said.

“That's good. Colonel?” Guru said, yielding the floor to Colonel Brady.

“Thanks, Major. Now, people, in case anyone's curious, no bad weather for a week. So we''ll be hitting things pretty hard until then. You've got fifty minutes until twelve-hour, so drink up!”


Major Wiser went and got another beer, then went back to his table. “Need to talk to General Yeager, then Prada.” He picked up the folder.

“What's in the folder?” Brainiac asked.

Goalie knew, but said nothing. “Be glad you don't know. Yet.” That answer made everyone at the table curious.

The CO nodded. “You'll find out when I get back.” He went over to General Yeager's table, where the news crew had finished talking to his people. “General,”

“Major,” Yeager nodded.

“General, right now, I'm glad I haven't gotten an angry phone call from either General Dugan or General Cunningham.”

“For his exploit today?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “General, I need to show you something,” He indicated the folder. “Privately, sir.”

Yeager nodded, and the two went to the bar and found a couple of empty stools. “Major?”

“Sir, my Intel was going to show Prada this on the ramp, but next to a shot-up bird was not a good time or place,” Guru said. He opened the folder.

Yeager studied the contents, then frowned. “She needs to see this Now.”

“Sir, may I suggest having Colonel Brady here? He's been there.”

“You mean Hanoi?” Yeager asked, and he saw Guru nod. “Good idea, Major.”

Guru went and talked to Colonel Brady for a moment, then the two went back to the bar. Then General Yeager brought Prada over. “What's this about, sir?” She asked.

“This,” Guru said as he opened the folder.

Prada looked at the folder's contents. A brief cover letter from DIA, then a copy of an artcle from a Cuban propaganda magazine. It showed two female American POWs, one brown-haired, the other blonde. Both had bruising on their faces, and were wearing long sleeved prison pajamas. And both were familiar to her, the brown-haired one very much so. “Daria.....she's alive.” Prada looked at the date on the article. April, 1987. “Seven months ago..”

“Your sister's alive, Captain,” Brady said. “Now you know. My family didn't know I was alive until Christmas, 1970, when the Viets let me write my first letter home.” He looked at the photo again. “Who's the other one?”

“Jane, her WSO,” Prada replied. “God...right now I don't know whether to be happy or worried.”

Brady knew what his family had gone through from January, '68 until March 14, 1973, when he had been released in the third increment of POWs from Hanoi. “Either one can be graded as correct.”

“Long pajama sleeves,” Guru noted. “Trying to hide the scars.”

“You picked that up, Major,” Yeager said.

“Read a few books on the subject, sir,” Guru replied. “And from SERE.”

Prada nodded as she scanned the photo and the accompanying article, which had been translated. “Says here they 'confessed' to attacking civilian targets, My ass.”

“Look, Prada,” Yeager said. “Your sister's had SERE training, and she'll get through this.” And so have you, he said to himself. “And there's this: you might qualify for a transfer under the 'Lone Survivor' rule. Your sister's a POW, and you're flying combat. If you get captured, they might put two and two together...”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“I can have orders cut transferring you out of the 474th and sending you to Edwards to be an F-20 IP. You're a combat veteran, a fighter ace, and you've done your bit for God and Country. I'd like to meet your parents one day, but I sure as hell don't want to do it handing them a flag.”

Prada nodded. “General, I don't know what to say.....I need to think about it, and if I can, talk with my folks.”

Guru wondered, “Red Cross can arrange that, can't they?”

“They should,” Brady said. “I'll check with the Red Cross office on the base. They opened a week after we got here.”

“Prada, I know you want to get back into the fight, but a year away from the war zone as an IP means you'll be passing on your experience, and making sure people know how to fly and fight in the F-20,” Yeager said. “When you do come back, you won't have missed a damn thing, because chances are, this war won't be over this time next year. Chances are, we'll be on the Rio Grande, with next stop Mexico City, and there'll still be plenty to do.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. “Can I wait until we get back to California? I need to think it over, and talk with my folks, if that's possible.”

“Your call,” Yeager nodded. He understood what she was thinking, and knew that some time away from the war zone would probably be best. IP duty wasn't exactly safe, with the potential for accidents, but it was safer than combat.

“Thank you, sir,” Prada smiled. “Now, if you'll excuse me,” she waved to Smitty. “I need to get slightly drunk.”

The three senior officers looked at each other, then at her. “Understandable, Captain,” Yeager said. “You've got forty-five minutes before twelve-hour.”

Prada smiled. “Then, sir, I need to get started.”


Guru went back to his flight's table, and sat back down. “First time,”

“What?” Kara asked.

“Telling someone their MIA loved one is a POW. Quinn's sister is in the Caribbean version of the Hanoi Hilton,” Guru spat. “Shot down over Cuba, and was MIA until recently.”

“So that's what was in the folder,” Sweaty nodded.

Guru nodded back as he finished his beer. “Yep. The good thing: her sister's alive. The bad? She's a 'guest' of Fidel.”

“And we've all got friends POW or MIA,” Goalie reminded them.

The CO grimaced. “That we do.”

Kara then got up and went back to the bar. She got another beer, then went to the pool table. She laid down her money, and the Marine who was there laid down his. It didn't take long for her skills to show, and the Marine wound up paying.

“I see the Queen of the pool tables is holding court,” Ms. Wendt said as she came over. “Might just challenge her one of these days.”

“Your money,” Guru reminded her. “You've been warned previously.”

“I know, Major. But still....”

General Olds stood up. “I'll give her another crack at me.”

“Oh, shit,” Guru said as the General went over to the pool table. He showed his money, Kara showed hers, then both went at it. This time, as with the previous occasion, General Olds' skills were superior, and after Kara paid him, she came back to the table in a fit of the sulks.

“Well?” Sweaty asked.

Kara shook her head. “I have got to beat him before he leaves.” she grumbled.

“Like I said, Kara. Go to the bar, get yourself another beer, then come back and try again,” Guru told her.

“Gladly.” She then went to the bar, got another beer, and downed half of it before she returned to the pool table. General Olds had returned to his table, and Kara proceeded to defeat another Marine. Then a male AF Major wearing MAC insignia on his flight suit challenged her, and came away with his wallet lightened by $50.00. “Next!”

“She always like this?” Ms. Wendt asked.

“Only after she loses,” Goalie said. “Which ain't often.”

Guru looked around, and saw that Prada's friends had joined her at the bar. One of them, Clancy, he thought, was going through Pepsi like it was nothing. Only when Smitty told him they didn't have much left did he lay off. While Pruitt and Prada were talking, and he gave her a hug. Guru then turned, and found General Olds and Dave Golen engaged in a serious conversation, with much hand-waving. SEA against the Yom Kippur War, he knew. Then the bar bell rang.

“Twelve-Hour now in effect!” Doc Waters said.

People flying the next morning turned in their drinks and got something nonalcoholic, and kept things going until 2100, when one of the Navy flight surgeons with MAG-11 rang the bell. “Aircrew Curfew, people!”

Those on the flight schedule the next morning got up and headed off to their billets to get some sleep. It wouldn't be long until Zero-dark-thirty, and another day of flying.
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  #362  
Old 06-22-2017, 09:34 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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The next day dawns, and a joint AF-Navy strike: .


335th TFS Offices, 0535 Hours Central War Time; 12 November, 1987:


Major Matt Wiser went towards the squadron's office, and, glancing around, saw the first light coming from the east. A few bright stars were still visible, and the sky was clear. Another good flying day, he thought to himself as he went into the office. As he went in, rock music was coming from an office radio, and that meant Wolfman Jack's show was going strong. The NDO, Hacksaw, noticed him and came over. “Major.”

“Hacksaw,” Major Wiser replied. “How's the cold?”

Almost on cue, Hacksaw sneezed. “Damn cold and damn pills. I don't know which is worse.”

“Feeling better?”

Hacksaw nodded. “Doc says I may be flying again in three or four days. Five at the most.”

“Listen to him,” the CO said. “He outranks all of us-even me-when it comes to anything medical. So listen to him, do as he says, and you'll be flying again in no time.”

The SDO grinned. “Right, Boss. The XO's in. He's waiting for you.”

“Thanks,” Major Wiser nodded. He had a few words with the admin folks on the night shift, then he went into his office and found the Exec waiting. “Mark.”

“Boss,” Capt. Mark Ellis nodded. He had a clipboard with some papers, and handed his CO a Styrofoam cup. “Got your morning admin stuff, and your cocoa.”

“Good,” the CO nodded. “Usual admin stuff?”

“Morning report for MAG-11 and Tenth Air Force,” Ellis said. The CO signed the papers. “And Supply came through-partially.”

“Parts for Kerry's bird?” Guru asked. They had a bird take flak damage the previous day, and he was anxious to get the bird back in the air.

The Exec nodded. “Got a rudder, rudder actuator, TIESO-”

Guru looked at his XO. “TIESO?”

“Yep,” said the Exec. “Took a 30-mm round right through it. They also have a new radome, canopy frame, and canopy.”

“No horizontal stabilizers?” Asked the CO.

“Still looking.”

Guru thought for a minute. “Okay. Ross on it?”

“He and the scroungers are on it. He's running down a few leads.”

“Remind him that those stabilizers are Priority One,” Guru told the Exec. “And have him touch base with our F-20 visitors. They may have run across F-4 parts during their own horse-trading or moonlight requesitioning expeditions.”

“Will do.”

A knock on the door followed. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself!”

Goalie came in, and she had two more cups, one in each hand. “Morning, guys,” she said. “Hot Chocolate for both of us.” She handed one cup to her pilot and boyfriend, and kept one for herself.

“Have a good night?” Guru asked.

“Slept like a baby, and ready to get on with earning my flight pay.”

“Of which forty-five cents goes back to the Government on April 15,” Mark Ellis joked.

“Something like that,” Guru said. “Ready to fly with Kara today?”

“Boss?” Ellis asked.

Guru smiled. “We're taking General Olds up on a check ride after the second run of the day. And before you ask, no, we're not going anywhere near the front lines. The old Scud Boxes from last summer will do.”

The XO stared at the CO. “For what?”

“Just some ACM,” replied Guru. “We show him what we're doing, vaguely recall peacetime ACM rules, and just have at it. And before you ask, yeah, we'll be armed, but we sure as hell won't be trolling for MiGs.”

Ellis let out a sigh of relief. “That's good to hear. Last thing I want is an angry phone call from General Dugan asking what got an AF legend killed. Then packing for Loring or Gander.”

“Tha't's for Frank, and we all know it,” the CO laughed. “I'm taking General Olds, and Goalie flies with Kara.”

“And you'll just have a couple Sidewinders for self-defense.” Ellis nodded.

Guru shook his head. “No. Full air-to-air load. You never know, Mark.”

The XO nodded. He understood what the CO meant. “And what about Frank? He'll flip when he hears you're taking General Olds up.”

“Because in Frank's egotistical mind, he thinks an Academy grad should be taking General Olds-who is a West Pointer, up,” Guru said. It wasn't question. “In that case, Frank can go suck an egg for all I care.”

“Don't blame you for that,” Ellis said. “Oh, forgot. Weather.” He handed Guru a paper. “No real change for at least five days. That storm that went through Colorado is now in Kansas and Nebraska, but some down into Oklahoma. Just a few high clouds, temps drop a degree or two, and that's it.”

“Okay.” Said the CO. “Anything in the regs about enlisting Buddy?” He was referring to the squadron's Golden Lab mascot.

“Nothing that I could find.”

“Hey, I got a better idea,” Goalie said. “I remember an Academy lecture where a Thud driver was telling us about Roscoe, the 338th's Mascot at Korat. He came to Korat in the back seat of an F-105F, late '65 or early '66. When his master was shot down over North Vietnam, the whole wing adopted him. Made him an honorary Colonel, club card for the O-Club, even let him sit in on mission briefs. They say that if he slept through a brief? It would be an easy ride. If he woke up, or paid attention? You were in for a bear.”

Both CO and XO were intrigued. “What happened to him?” Guru asked.

“He died in '75, a few weeks before the 388th left Korat,” Goalie said. “They buried him with full honors next to the O-Club. His master never did come back-still MIA last I heard.”

“Hmm..” Guru said. Both XO and GIB noticed he was in thought. “Okay, we can either enlist him, or make him an honorary Captain. In that case, he can go into the O-Club. I'll talk it over with the General, and go from there. Anything else?”

“That's it,” Ellis said.

“Check ride aside, we got a busy day coming. Let's go eat.”


When Guru, Goalie, and the Exec got to the Officer's Mess Tent, they found the usual crowd gathered, waiting. They noticed General Olds talking with Colonel Brady.. General Olds noticed the three, and waved them over. “Major,” Olds said.

“Good morning, sir,” Guru replied.

“Ready to get back at it?”

“Yes, sir.” Guru looked around. “Where's General Yeager and his people?”

“Early-bird,” Brady said. “They're wheels-up at 0630, and have a full day.”

“Some more of my people, no doubt,” Guru said. “As long as those young pups don't wrangle another trip down to the front lines.”

General Olds nodded. “You're not the only one thinking that, Major. So I told him to go west, to the old Scud Boxes from last Summer.”

“General, that's good to hear,” Guru said. “And FYI, sir, that's where we're going this morning for your, uh, 'check ride.'”

“He's flying with you, Major?” Brady asked.

“Yes, sir, he is,” Guru said. “Captain Thrace-” he gestured to where Kara was talking with Sweaty, KT, Flossy, and Jang-will be flying as number two, with Lieutenant Eichhorn in the backseat.”

Hearing that, Goalie grinned. “Wouldn't miss this for the world, General.”

“And if we run into the F-20s?” Olds asked.

“Then, General, we have some DACT and teach those young hotheads a lesson,” said Guru. “Maybe. Those F-20s are small and nimble, like the F-5. These guys might give us a good run.”

“Well, we'll find out, won't we, Major?” Olds grinned. He had an idea that this might turn out to be a mini-Red Flag.

Guru nodded. “We will, sir.”

The Marine Mess Officer came out of the tent and flipped the sign from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chowtime, people!”


After breakfast, Guru went to the Ops Office to get his mission briefing packet. His Ops Officer was waiting for him. “Don,” he nodded. “What have you got for me this morning?”

Capt. Don Van Loan handed him a briefing packet. “Going down to a Soviet-held sector,” he told the CO. Right next to the East Germans.” That meant the East German sector's western flank, held by the Soviet 32nd Army.

Guru scanned the material. “Sector boundaries are usually good defense-wise. Notice I said, usually.”

“But going out....” Van Loan said. He, like the CO, knew from experience that things could be nasty going out right over a division.

“At least it'll be from the rear, and they may not have any warning,” Guru said. “Okay, we getting Weasels?”

“No, but two VA-135 A-7s are coming with you. I sent them on ahead to your briefing room.”

“Two targets?” Guru said as he scanned the mission summary. “Fuel dump and a suspected C3 site?”

“Yep. They want both hit if you can,” Van Loan told the CO.

Guru frowned, then reluctantly nodded. “Do what we can. All right, then.” He gathered the material. “Don? You have a good one.”

“You too, Boss. Don't want to be Exec just yet.”

“And Kara doesn't want to be Ops,” the CO laughed. “Just be careful out there.”

Van Loan nodded. “Same to you, Boss.”


Guru went to the Briefing Room his flight used, and found the two A-7 drivers waiting outside. “Major?” A brown-haired, tough-looking fellow in a Navy flight suit with the gold leaves of a Lieutenant Commander asked. “Steve Kearny. I'm your IRON HAND lead.”

The CO nodded. He'd heard of the IRON HAND people: just like their AF Wild Weasel counterparts, they went in ahead of a strike to kill SAMs and AAA sites. But unlike the AF, the Navy had no specialized squadrons, just pilots within an attack squadron who drew that assignment. “Nice to meet you,” he said, shaking hands. “And your wingie?” He gestured to a blonde woman with cropped hair who had a silver bar on her flight suit, and that meant a Lieutenant (junior grade).

“Lynda Patrick,” she replied, shaking the CO's hand. “In case you're wondering, I've been in combat since May.”

“PRAIRIE FIRE,” Commander Kearny said. “She joined us just in time to kick that off.”

“And you, Commander?” Guru asked.

“Been with the squadron since we were formed up in March '86. Got to combat in September, and been there since. And we're either lucky or blessed. We still have half of our original pilots.”

“You're better off in that department than the 335th is,” Guru said as he opened the door. “Shall we?”

The rest of the flight was in the room, chatting when Guru came in. “Okay, people! Time to get serious and back to work. This time, we're going in with Navy help.” He introduced the two A-7 drivers. “And this time, we're going to a Soviet sector.” He took out the briefing materials and found a TPC and JOG chart. “Here's our two targets.”

“Targets?” Kara asked.

“Targets,” Guru said. “Here, southeast of Comanche, at the Route 36/F.M. 1476 intersection. On the Northwest side of the intersection, there's a fuel dump. Southeast, is a suspected C3 site. They don't know what exactly it is, but those trucks with van bodies behind the cab? That usually means a command post, com relay, or a SIGINT outfit.”

Sweaty asked, “Who gets what?”

“Kara and I will take the fuel dump,” Guru said. “You and Hoser have the C3 site.”

“And if it's not there, Boss?” Hoser asked.

“Good question. We don't get paid for bringing ordnance home. If it's not there, I'll call it out-or Kara will,” and he saw his wingmate nod. “In that case? Drop on the dump.”

“Got it,” Sweaty nodded.

“MiG threat?” Brainiac asked. He was hoping he and Kara would be able to add to their tally.

“Brownwood Regional is the closest,” Guru said. “MiG-21s and -23s. The former are East German, the latter, Soviet. San Angelo has -23s, and so does Grey AAF at Fort Hood. MiG-29s are there as well, and at Bergstrom. Which, by the way, has Flankers.”

Heads nodded at that. Nothing new there. “Defenses?” Goalie asked.

“Getting to that. There was an SA-2 there, but it's not listed as operational, but don't take that to the bank,” Guru told the crews. “This is a divisional rear area, so expect SA-6 or -8, plus either -9s or -13s as we head on out. MANPADS and 23-mm at the target as well. There's at least two 57-mm sites near the targets, so our Navy brethren? Take your antiradar shots, then kill the flak sites.”

“We'll take them out,” Commander Kearny said. “We're packing two Shrikes and four Rockeyes each bird.”

“They -45Cs?” the CO asked. Kearny nodded back. “Good. Now, as for us? Twelve Mark-82 Snakeyes each bird, and the centerline MERs have the Daisy Cutter fuze extensions. Other than that, the usual air-to-air: Four Sidewinders, two Sparrows, full 20-Mike-mike, two wing tanks, and ALQ-119s for the leads, -101s for the wingies.”

“Got it,” Kara said. “Ingress?'

Guru traced the ingress route on the JOG chart. “We come in over Lake Comfort, and follow the Soviet-East German boundary. Past Dublin, and south to the town of Lamkin, on Route 36.” He passed the INS coordinates around. “Then we go south to the town of Pottsville, turn west to the town of Indian Gap. Ten seconds after the town, we turn north. No visual checkpoint for our pop-up point, so it's all INS. Make your runs, then get your asses down low and headed north.” He surveyed his crews. “Any other questions?”

“Bailout areas?” KT asked.

“Down there? Anywhere away from the roads,” replied Guru. “Weather is pretty much unchanged, in case you're wondering.”

'It had occurred to some of us,” Sweaty nodded.

“I'll bet. Okay, first run of the day, and for Sweaty's element, and Brainiac? That's all. Kara and I are taking General Olds to one of the Scud Boxes we prowled last summer. Have some ACM, and maybe we'll run into those F-20 hotheads and teach them a lesson or two.”

Hearing that, Kara grinned. “It'll be a pleasure.”

“Hopefully,” Guru reminded her. “Okay, Commander? You guys meet us at ten grand overhead. Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Then let's gear up.”

The crews went to their locker rooms to change, with the Navy people heading off to their aircraft. Guru came out of the Men's Locker Room and found Goalie waiting, as usual.”Ready?” He asked.

“Let's get going,” his GIB replied.

Pilot and GIB went outside, and headed to the squadron's dispersal area. The sky was brighter, they noticed, and the sun had just risen. When they got to the revetment holding his bird, 512, they found the rest of their flight waiting for his final instructions. “Ready?”

“Time to make some Russians think they should've stayed home,” Preacher said.

KT nodded. “The ones who are still alive, that is.”

“It is that,” Guru said. “Okay, we're Corvette Flight for at least this one. Now, usual procedures on the radio. Call signs between us, and mission code to AWACS and other parties.”

“Any word on who these Russians are?” Sweaty asked.

“No info,” Guru said. “You know as much as I do.” He looked at his crews. “Anything else?”

Heads shook no, then Kara said, “Guess that's it.”

Guru nodded. “All right: time to mount up. Let's hit it.”

The crews broke up and headed to their aircraft. When Guru and Goalie went into their revetment, Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting with the ground crew. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley said as he snapped a salute. “Five-twelve's locked and cocked. She's ready to go kick some Commie ass.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” Guru said as he and Goalie returned the salute. They did their usual preflight walk-around, then he signed for the aircraft. That done, pilot and GIB mounted the aircraft, put on their helmets, and got strapped in. Then they went through their cockpit checks.

“Back to a Soviet sector,” Guru said as they went through the preflight. “Got used to East Germans, Nicaraguans, or Libyans.”

“Same here,” Goalie replied. “But we're going back to Public Enemy Number One,” she reminded him. 'Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,” said Guru. “Check yours. And nothing wrong with that. Arnie?”

Goalie replied, “Arnie and INS all set.” That meant the ARN-101 DMAS and the INS. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“That we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. Guru then started his engines. First one, then both J-79 engines were soon up and running. Then he called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Flight rolling,” Guru replied. He gave another thumbs-up to his CC, who motioned to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal. Guru released the brakes, and began taxiing out. He headed towards the runway, and the rest of the flight followed.

When the flight got to the holding area, they waited while a Marine flight of F-4s went ahead of them. As the Marines took off, Corvette Flight taxied into the holding area, where the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller replied.

“Roger, Tower.” Guru called back. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and took a quick glance to his right. Kara and Brainiac in 520 were there in his Five O'clock, as they should be. They gave a thumbs-up, and both he and Goalie returned it. Then it was time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Goalie said, and Guru did the same. He glanced to his right again, and saw 520's crew had done the same. “Ready?”

“Time to fly,” Goalie replied.

“Let's go.” Guru put the throttles forward, released the brakes, and 512 thundered down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element, and after takeoff, all four joined up with the A-7s at Flight Level 100, and they headed south for the tankers.
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  #363  
Old 07-12-2017, 09:45 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Guys, I will have new material up over the weekend. RL has been a serious pain the last week, but things have settled down quite a bit. Patience, please.
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  #364  
Old 07-16-2017, 09:32 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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New update, and can anyone recognize the Soviet air-assault officers?



Over West-Central Texas: 0745 Hours Central War Time:



Corvette Flight headed south, having had their pre-strike refueling and after dropping to low level, cleared the FLOT. Unlike strikes flown on the east side of the East German sector, where the Nicaraguan gunners were not that excited about shooting at them, this time, the East Germans had the Soviet 32nd Army on their western flank, and both sides would be alert and ready to shoot. The ingress route Guru had planned out took the flight along the boundary between the East Germans and the Soviets, where one side might not know what the other was doing. So far, it looked like things were quiet.

In 512, Guru kept his head on a swivel, checking his instruments, the radar repeater, the EW display, as well as having his eyes out of the cockpit, checking for threats. While in the back seat, Goalie was concentrated on the navigation, but also keeping her eyes out visually for threats as well. “So far, so good,” she said. “They still asleep?”

“Maybe they're having a unit inspection or an ORI,” Guru jokingly replied. “Dublin off at One O'Clock.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied. “Stay on this heading. Two minutes to the turn point.”

“Roger that,” said Guru. He glanced at his EW display. Clear so far.


On the outskirts of Dublin, the commander of the 374th MRR, 155th Motor-rifle Division, was watching one of his battalions as it went through some training. The Americans to the north were quiet, and the Regiment needed some quiet time to absorb some personnel and equipment replacements that had recently arrived. Though he was surprised at how young some of the men were: a replacement draft had arrived, and with a few exceptions, all were barely eighteen, depite having had six months' training prior to shipping out. He turned to the battalion commander, a young Major who had been promoted after taking the job due to casualties, and the Colonel saw the man simply shrug his shoulders. The Colonel knew what the Major was thinking: if the Americans came at them now, they'd be in for it, as he doubted many of these replacements would make it through their first battle. Then the sight of jets and the scream of jet engines came, as two A-7 Corsairs and four F-4 Phantoms flew by very close. Some of the young soliders stared at the aircraft, and were promptly kicked-literally-back into their duties by their sergants. The Colonel and the Major shook their heads, and then went back to work.


“Lamkin coming up,” Guru said.

“Copy. One minute to the nav point,” Goalie replied. “EW still clear.”

“Got it,” replied Guru. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty-five. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-eight for sixty. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing Two-one-one for seventy-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that.” Guru checked his own radar. Clear for now. “Coming up on the turn?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

Then the small town of Lamkin appeared Just a collection of houses on the south side of State Route 36, it was useful as a navigation checkpoint from their point of view, it went by in a blur. Guru waggled his wings in case there were civilians down there, then he turned slightly right to pick up the heading for the next turn point, the town of Pottsville. “How long until the next turn?

“Two minutes,” Goalie replied. She glanced around, then at her own EW display. “EW still clear...wait: looks like an air-search radar due south.”

“Probably a Mainstay,” Guru said, referring to the Mainstay AWACS aircraft. “Still...Flight, Lead. Music on.” That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.


Corvette Flight continued south, then they picked up a small hill, and just past that, Pottsville, which was their turn point. Guru put 512 into a right turn, and picked up the heading to the next turn, the small town of Indian Gap, which was more of a spot on the map than a town. After steadying on the new heading, two-six-five, he asked, “Turn in when?”

“Fifteen seconds,,” Goalie replied.

“Got it,” Again, this was more a spot on the map than a town, and he banked right and came onto the new course. “How long until IP?”

“One minute thirty.”

Corvette Flight headed north, generally following F.M. 1476, and though there were some small rolling hills, there were none that stood out, and thus no landmark that could be used as an IP. Guru scanned for threats, and spotted the town of Gustine off in the distance at his One O'clock. Good. “Set 'em up,” Guru told Golalie.

She worked the armament control panel, and replied. “You're set.”

“Roger that, Flight, Lead. Switches on, and stand by to pull. Puncher 304, time for you to go to work.”

“Roger, Lead,” Commander Kearny replied as the two A-7s climbed, then they began shooting their Shrike missiles.

“Got some radars,” Goalie said.

'Too late,” Guru replied

“Stand by....and PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and the Phantom climbed for altitude. He leveled off, and went into a shallow dive. Guru was able to pick out the fuel dump that was their target, but saw the area where the suspected C3 site was supposed to be was empty. “Flight, Lead. Primary target in sight, secondary is gone.”

“Copy,” Sweaty replied. That meant that she and Hoser would drop on the dump.

“Ready back here,” Goalie called.

“Time to go,” Guru said as he rolled in on his attack run.


East of the supply dump, just west of the town of Gustine, the 801st Independent Air Assault Battalion was resting after conducting an assault exercise against the town. The battalion had fought in America since 1986, and had taken the casualties to show for it, for they were now on their fourth commander. Though new to America, Lieutenant Colonel Gordunov was a decorated veteran of Afghanistan, fighting at Herat and Kandahar, and was a Hero of the Soviet Union twice over. He had brought several other officers with him, all Afghan vets but one, to rebuild the battalion. As part of the rebuilding process, he had personally led his First Company in an assault exercise on the town's garrison. The garrison, a motor-rifle battalion from the 366th Guards Independent Tank Regiment, which was itself rebuilding, had done well in the exercise, but the umpires from Front Headquarters had ruled that the
air-assault troops had taken the town.

Now, Gordunov and his comanders were going over the exercise over a late breakfast. He had listened to the veteran officers he had inherited upon assuming command, and had been reminded that “Motor-rifle blockheads are one thing. Americans are totally different.” Gordunov had also wondered who had been watching the exercise; though the local inhabitants were indoors as per the curfew, no one could miss the noise of the exercise, and his intelligence officer was now wondering how long until word of their unit's presence would be in the U.S. Sixth Army's hands. Then there was Captain Levin, his Zampolit. The man came across to Gordunov as someone who volunteered for the assignment, and as a sincere and idealistic Communist. The truth about what kind of war he'd landed in was likely to shock the young Zampolit, and Gordunov was right. Still, Levin had the makings of a good solider, and the exercise had shown that. But he was surprised when the Zampolit pointed to the southwest. “What is it, Levin?”

“Air raid, Comrade Commander,” Levin replied calmly.

“What are you babbling-” Gordunov said, then he froze as he recognized the aircraft. F-4 Phantoms coming in. “TAKE COVER! And get the air defenders up!” The officers scattered as they ran for foxholes or a dry creekbed.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled in. The A-7s had gone to work, killing a nearby 57-mm site, and had shot at least two Shrikes, forcing the AAA radars off the air, and maybe any SAMs, too. He easily recognized the fuel dump and the motor pool next to it. Selecting the center of the dump, he lined up several large fuel tanks in his pipper, and ignored some light flak, probably 23-mm, that was coming up. Barbeque time, Ivan.....”And...Steady...Steady....HACK!” Guru hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s down on the dump. He pulled up and leveled off, heading north and jinking to avoid flak as he did so. “Lead off safe,” Guru called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as he heard Guru's F-4 fly past, and then the bombs went off. The fuel dump had been one of the targets of their exercise, and the seemingly lax security had made their task an easy one. Now, a number of secondary explosions followed in the F-4's wake, and he knew what the target was. He had never been under air attack before, and this was a new experience. He poked his head up, only to have Levin pull him back. He started to demand why, then the Zampolit pointed. Another F-4 was coming in.


“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries, and they're big ones!”

“How big?” Guru asked as a shoulder-fired missile flew a few hundred feet ahead of his nose, and another one flew over the top of the aircraft.

“Big enough!”

“We'll take those, don't you think?” Guru said as he headed north.


“Two's in!” Kara called as she rolled 520 in on the target. She saw the secondaries left in the CO's wake, and picked out some revetments on the east side of the dump that had fuel bladders or simply piles of drums. Kara, too, drew some light flak as she came in, and even a SA-7, but she ignored it. Ready to fry, Ivan? She lined up the revetments in her pipper. “And...And.....HACK!” Hitting the pickle button, Kara sent her dozen Mark-82s down on the fuel depot. She pulled up and away, jinking as she did so. “Two's off target,” she called.


In the foxhole, Colonel Gordunov heard Kara's F-4, then he-and presumably Levin-heard the bombs going off, and felt the concussion. He poked his head up out of the hole to see several large explosions left in the fighter's wake. Cursing, he looked around, and saw several of his soldiers with Strela-3 missiles on their shoulders fire, and then they watched helplessly as their missiles fell short. Then he noticed the Lieutenant who commanded the air defense platoon point to the south. That had to mean more American aircraft coming, and he dropped back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted. “Got some secondaries, and they're big ones!

“How big?” Kara asked as she jinked, and saw a missile fly past their left wing.

“Texas sized.”

“That's good enough,” she replied as she turned north, picking up the CO as she did so.


“Three in hot!” Sweaty called as she rolled in. She saw that the secondary target was indeed gone, and adjusted her course slightly to aim for the fuel dump. Both the CO and Kara had left an inferno in their wake, but she saw several fuel tanks that had escaped the carnage, and selected those as her target. Hope you enjoy a Texas barbeque, Sweaty thought as she lined up the tanks in her pipper. Ignoring the 23-mm flak, she drew closer. “Steady....And...And....HACK!” She hit the pickle button, and released her bombs onto the dump. Sweaty pulled wings level and away, accelerating as she did so, and jinking to avoid flak or SAMs. “Three's off safe,” she called.


“What the...” Gordunov said as Sweaty's Phantom came past, and once again, the Americans left explosions in their wake. He poked his head up again, and noticed Levin doing the same thing, and what they saw....the fuel depot was blazing furiously, and the occasional sympathetic detonation of fuel drums or tanks told them that putting that inferno out was going to be a job. How that was done wasn't his problem, but still....Then Levin pointed to the south again. Another American Phantom was coming down. Gordunov didn't need to be told twice, for he ducked back into the hole.


“GOOD HITS!” Preacher shouted from Sweaty's back seat. “Righteous ones!”

Beneath her oxygen mask, Sweaty grinned. “How righteous?” She, too, had a shoulder-fired missile fly past the aircraft, this time on the right side.

“Large and righteous!”


“If it pleases the guy upstairs,” quipped Sweaty as she turned north, picking up Kara's bird as she did.


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he rolled in. The other three birds hadn't left much for him to hit, but he didn't get paid for bringing back ordnance. As he came down, he noticed the supply dump's motor pool hadn't been hit, and he lined that area up in his pipper. Even with all the fires and explosions, the flak gunners below hadn't abandoned their posts, for 23-mm fire still came up. Not your day, Ivan., he muttered as the motor pool grew larger in the pipper. “And.....NOW!” Hoser hit his pickle button, releasing his Mark-82s. He then pulled up and away, jinking like the others to avoid any flak. “Four off target.”

“Sookin sin...” Son of a bitch, Gordonov muttered as Hoser's F-4 came by, the closest of the four. The bombs went off in the plane's wake, followed by some sympathetic explosions, and this time, he felt some of the heat wash over, even though the depot was several hundred meters away. Was it just thinking it did? No matter. He got up, and Levin came with him.Gordunov surveyed the scene, and saw several trucks in the depot's motor pool had been tossed aside like toys, and were now blackened skeletons. And several human torches came staggering out of the flames, only to collapse on the ground. He turned to Levin, who was clearly shocked by the sight. Then he remembered that the Political Officer had never been in combat before. “Well, Levin?”

“Comrade Commander.....” Levin replied. “Is it always like this?”

“I wouldn't know,” Gordunov said as he shook his head at the destruction. 'The Dushmani don't have an air force.” This had been his first time under air attack. “So, Levin, what do we do now?” He asked, wondering if he'd get some Party blather.

“We can only do our duty, Comrade Commander,” the Zampolit replied.

Gordunov was surprised, but then again, he had an idea that Levin would make a good soldier. “That's all we can do.” He waved his Chief of Staff, Major Dukohnin, over. “Any casualties?”

“None, Comrade Commander, but if those planes return....” said Dukohnin. No more need be said.

“We won't be here. Get the battalion ready to move. And as for those poor bastards,” Gordunov motioned to the inferno. “Tell the garrison in town that's their problem.”

“Right away, Comrade Commander.”


“SHACK!” KT hollered from the back seat. “We got some good hits!”

“How good?” Hoser asked, wincing as a shoulder-fired missile flew by on the right side.

“Good secondaries.”

“Have to take 'em,” Hoser replied as he headed north, and then he picked up his element lead.


Guru heard the call. “All four off target,” he said. “Puncher 304, Corvette Lead. We're headed out.”

“Roger that, Corvette,” Commander Kearny replied, then he calmly added, “I'm hit.”

“Puncher, can you make the Fence?” Guru asked. That meant the FLOT, and also I-20.

“Negative,” Kearny said. “I'm getting out. See you all later.”

Guru and Goalie scanned around, but it was Kara who made the call. “Got him, and there's a chute.”

Then Puncher 307 came up. “Crystal Palace, Puncher 307. Puncher 304 is down, four miles north of the target. Have a visual on a chute.”

“Roger, 307. Will notify Jolly Greens,” the controller replied.

“Puncher 307, Corvette Lead. Join up with us. Nothing you can do for him,” Guru called Lieutenant Patrick.

In her A-7, Patrick didn't want to leave her element lead, but knew that Air Force flight lead was right. Besides, she had no bombs or Shrikes left, and only had 20-mm. “Copy. Puncher 304, this is 307. Can't stay, and good luck.” Then she reluctantly turned north, following the F-4s on their way out.


“That sucks,” Goalie said as the A-7 joined up on the F-4s.

“Always,” Guru replied. Then he called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for fifty-eight. Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-nine-one for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-one-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger that, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied as the A-7 joined up with the strike flight. “How long to the Fence?”

“Two minutes,” Goalie called as Proctor Lake flew by on their left.

“Good,” Guru said. Then he did some calculations in his head. Two minutes to the Fence, and the I-20. No way those MiGs would catch them. Then another call came from the AWACS.

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-six-zero for forty. Medium, closing.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “Say bogey dope.”

“Corvette, Crystal Palace. Bandits are Floggers. That meant MiG-23s. “Threat now One-five-five for thirty-five. Stand by....bandits now turning. And going away.”

Guess they don't want a wall of Eagles this morning, Guru thought. “Copy.”

“One minute,” Goalie called. It wasn't long until the twin ribbons of concrete that were I-20 appeared. “And...now.”

“Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” Guru called. Now that they were over friendly territory, having their IFF on was a must. Given how the Army and Marine air-defense pukes acted on occasion.....”Shoot them down and sort them out on the ground,” was their motto.

Once they cleared the Fence, the flight went to the tanker track, and their post-strike refueling. One thing the fighter crews had learned from talking to tanker people, was that it was a heartbreaker sometimes for them to refuel a flight going in, then when that same flight came out, minus one or two aircraft.....and they never asked what happened to the missing birds. It was a cardinal rule, and strictly enforced.

The flight then headed to Sheppard, and got into the traffic pattern. Once the outbound strike birds had cleared, and two inbound ones had gone before them, and then the morning C-141, it was Corvette Flight's turn. After they landed, the crews taxied to their respective dispersals, and as the F-4s taxied, canopies popped, the crews saw the news crew filming, as usual. “Well, no surprise there,” Guru said.

“She upset you're flying General Olds before her?”

“Kinda,” Guru replied. “But Kara's actually taking her up. I'll have the cameraman.”

Goalie grinned in the back seat, oxygen mask off. “Kara going to get her airsick?”

“That's the idea.”

Then the Phantoms got to the dispersal, and found their revetments. After taxiing into his, Guru got the “Shut down” signal from his Crew Chief, and the ground crew put the wheel chocks into place. He shut down the engines, then he and Goalie went through the post-flight checklist. The ground crew brought the crew ladder, and both pilot and GIB took off their helmets and climbed down. “One and done,” Guru said.

“And three more, plus our ride with General Olds,” Goalie nodded as a ground crewer brought her and Guru bottles of water.

“That's about it,” Guru replied as he took his bottle and promptly drained half of it.

“Sir?” Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, asked. “How's my bird, and how'd you guys do?”

“Five-twelve's working like a champ,” the CO said. “Whatever you're doing, don't change it.”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley was beaming at that.

“And the fuel dump we hit?” Goalie added. “Went sky-high.”

“Good to hear that, Lieutenant,” Crowley said. “Major, we'll get her ready for the next one.”

The CO nodded. “Good man, Sergeant. Get her ready to go.”

Crowley smiled. “You got it, Major! All right, you heard the man! Let's get this bird ready for the next one.”

Guru and Goalie nodded, then headed to the revetment entrance. Kara and Brainiac were there already, waiting. “Well, how'd you guys do?” Guru asked.

“Big secondaries, and you had some,” Kara said, and Brainiac nodded.

“What happened to that A-7? Goalie asked.

“Good question,” Sweaty said as she came up with Preacher, with Hoser and KT right behind them. “No radar warning.”

“I'd like to know myself,” Guru said as Sin Licon, the SIO, came over. “Sin,”

“Major,” Licon said. “Heard about the A-7. VA-135's Intel is talking with the wingmate right now. She doesn't know what happened.”

Guru shook his head. “And we don't either. No indication on the RWR, nada. And no basketball-sized tracers, in case you're wondering.”

The intel nodded. “Could be anything, Major. Shoulder-fired missile, heavy SAM with optical backup, IR missile from a vehicle-like an SA-9 or -13....”

“Or flak,” Kara said.

“Or flak.”

“Okay,” Guru said, getting back to business. “Debrief in when?”

“Fifteen, sir. Have to talk to the XO's flight first. They got in ahead of you.”

“All right, then. Get out of your gear, and briefing room in fifteen. We debrief, then check your desks, because in an hour, we're back at it,” Guru said.

Kara nodded, then a grin came over her. “Then we fly with General Olds.”

“That we do,” Goalie said.

“Boss, can we come with you?” Sweaty asked, and Hoser, Preacher, and KT nodded. 'If you run into those F-20 guys, it's more of a fair fight.”

“She's right,” Kara pointed out.

Guru thought for a moment, then nodded, and he had a grin come over his face. “I like it. You guys can tag along, and if we do run into those F-20 jocks? We all get to teach them a thing or two.”

“Love to,” Sweaty grinned.

“First things first,” Guru reminded them. “Let's debrief, then get ready for the next one.”
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  #365  
Old 08-10-2017, 06:37 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Anyone recognize the Soviet air-assault colonel and his Zampolit? Those who've read Ralph Peters' Red Army will know....
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  #366  
Old 08-12-2017, 08:09 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Getting ready for the next mission:




335th TFS: 0850 Hours Central War Time:


Major Wiser was in his office, and was glad to see one particular item of paperwork cross his desk. Supply had come through-for once, and the two horizontal stabilizers for Kerry Collins' shot-up bird would be arriving tomorrow. Good: the sooner that bird was fixed, the squadron would have twenty-two birds flying, and he'd finally be able to form two new crews with the extra people he already had. The CO was mentally deciding on some tentative crew assignments when there was a knock on his office door. “Yeah? Show yourself and come in!”

Jana Wendt, the reporter attached to the squadron, came in. '”Bad time, Major?”

“Not at all,” Guru said. “Always time for the Fourth Estate. What can I do for you?” He was recalling the directives from Tenth Air Force about dealing with the news media, and one of those said, “Be polite and reasonable.”

“Just letting you know: your interview airs in Sydney tomorrow night, Texas time, and the following night? On CBS.”

“Took long enough,” the CO said. “Network being slow?”

The reporter shrugged. “They didn't tell me, Though they were more interested in the report we did during that air raid,” Wendt said, referring to a Soviet air strike on Sheppard, when the reporter and crew had disdained the shelters, and had caught some of the raid on tape.

“And let me guess: you were upset you weren't live?”

“You're right, Major. I did go on the air about an hour later, but they wanted a full report on the raid. Apart from some submarine activity, and Spetsnatz?”

Guru nodded. “That's the term. Soviet Special Forces. They're the meanest and toughest killers Ivan has.”

“Okay, thanks. Apart from that, and the subs, Australia hasn't seen much of the war. Just what we see on the news,” Wendt said. “Same for New Zealand.”

The CO understood. “Just as long as they liked the show.”

“They did,” Ms. Wendt grinned. “So, you getting ready for another go?”

“Almost time,” Guru said. “Southeast Asia wasn't like this, they say. One, maybe two missions 'Up North', a day. If you were in South Vietnam? You might get three or four.”

Wendt nodded. “And from what General Olds told me in his interview? Hanoi was the most heavily defended airspace in history, even more than Berlin was, and he says this can be as bad.”

'In some areas, yeah. But talk to the guys who fly for SAC into Russia. At least here? If we go down, we have a chance either for a rescue or joining up with the Resistance. There? If you go down, you are either dead or in a Gulag,” Guru reminded the reporter.

“I may just do that, when my time here's done,” Ms. Wendt said. “If, that is, they'll let them talk to the media.”

Guru knew what she was talking about. SAC did publicize its missions into Russia, but it was still cautious about what it let the crews discuss with the media. “For good reason.” Then there was another knock. '”Yeah?”

Capt. Kevin O'Donnell, the Squadron Maintenance Officer, came in. “Boss, we're getting to work on Kerry's bird. All we're missing is the two stabilizers.”

“Get what you can done. Because those stabilizers are due in tomorrow. And yeah, I know, it's a three-day job,” Guru said, handing the maintenance officer the paper he had scanned. “Ms. Wendt, you didn't hear that.”

“Hear what?” She replied, and the two officers grinned.

“Good to know you can be deaf when necessary,” Guru said, and the trio laughed.


After the reporter and the Maintenance Officer had left, the Exec, Capt. Mark Ellis, came in. “Boss,”

“Mark,” Guru said, “Whatcha got for me?”

“First, Ross came through on the stabilizers,” the Exec said.

Guru handed him the paper he'd shown Kerry Collins. “Supply, for once, beat him to it. Be here tomorrow.”

“Must be our lucky day,” Ellis replied. “Supply on their tails for once.”

“Just hope that when I kick Frank out of the squadron, he doesn't wind up there,” the CO reminded the Exec. “That's the only problem with transferring him out: I'd be inflicting him on a fellow officer who'd be wondering what he'd done to deserve Frank showing up.”

“Collateral damage, I'd say.”

“General Olds said the exact same thing,” Guru said. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, speaking of Frank, he's filed another complaint. Seems he overheard some of us talking about either enlisting our mascot or making him an honorary Captain.” Ellis handed the CO a paper. “As if he's got other things to worry about.”

“Like SA-11s or MiG-29s showing up,” deadpanned Guru. “You know where to put that BS,” He nodded towards the office shredder.

Ellis took the paper and fed it into the office shredder. “What'd the reporter want to know?”

“Just letting me know that the interview that she did with me and Goalie airs in Sydney tomorrow, our time, and on CBS the day after that.”

“Well, now, looks like you two get your fifteen minutes of fame on two continents,” the XO said.

“And the GRU adds that to the files they have on the two of us in Moscow,” Guru reminded him. “Every officer commissioned prewar has a file on them at GRU headquarters, in all likelihood. And that includes you.”

“It does.”

“Okay, anything else?”

The XO shook his head. “That's it.”

Just then, Kara came in. “Boss, we've got a mission.”

Guru stood up. “And we have someplace to be. Round everybody up. Briefing Room in ten.”

“I'm gone,” Kara replied. She ran out the office door.

“Good luck, Boss,” Ellis said. “Not ready to be CO yet.”

“And I'm not ready to break in Don as Exec.”


The CO went to the Ops Office, and found the Ops Officer waiting. “Major,” Capt. Don Van Loan said.

“Don,” Guru replied. “What have you got for me?”

Van Loan handed the CO a briefing packet. “Going back to the East German sector. Stephenville Municipal Airport. Not only is it supporting chopper and transport ops, but Su-25s are staging through it again.”

Guru scanned the summary. “We've hit this place before.”

“Yeah, and so have the A-6s and F-111s. They keep bringing it back online. You're going as a four-ship, and no Weasels.”

“Let me guess: the Weasels are all busy.” It wasn't a question from the CO's viewpoint.

“Right you are, Boss.” Van Loan replied.

Guru nodded. “Okay, Don. Oh, I need to file a flight plan with MAG-11 Ops.” Van Loan handed the CO the form, and he quickly filled out the form. “Right after we get back from this one. I want my flight turned around-fuel and any air-to-air ordnance expended replaced. We're taking General Olds on his 'Check ride.'”

“Going to hassle with those F-20s?”

“Something like that,” the CO grinned. “Teach those young punks a lesson.”

Van Loan winced at that. “Well, I've flown with those 'young punks.' They're good. Remember what you keep saying about overconfidence?”

“I know. But, when one of those young punks-either Clancy or Pruitt-declares the F-20 'Greatest since the P-51'?” Asked the CO. “Somebody's got to teach them a lesson on overconfidence.”

“And it might just as well be you and General Olds.”

“You got it.” Guru let out an evil-looking grin.

“Well, good luck on the mission, and the, uh, 'check ride,” Said van Loan.

“Thanks.”


Guru went to his flight's briefing room, and found Buddy there, sitting by the door. The CO opened the door, and the dog went in ahead of him. Then he entered, and found the rest of his flight there. “Folks, we've got a visitor,” he nodded to the dog. “And we've got a mission.”

“Where to?” Sweaty asked.

“Someplace we've been before. Stephenville Municipal Airport,” Guru said. “We've hit it a couple of times, and the F-111s or A-6s have as well. But the East Germans are tough, because they keep getting it back operational.”

Kara nodded. “So what's flying from there?” She wanted to know, and others nodded as well.

“Choppers, for one thing, along with light transports like the An-24 or -26, and the L-410. And Su-25s have been staging through there,” replied the CO. “So we get to put it out of action for a couple of days.”

“Ingress route?” Goalie asked. Since she was the lead navigator, it was a natural question to ask.

Guru showed the route, using a TPC chart and a JOG map. “We follow the Brazos River, staying in the Nicaraguan sector until we hit Lake Whitney. Turn west, and pass the town of Meridan, here,” the CO said, tapping with a pen. “Go west to Hico, then turn north and follow U.S. 281. Pop-up point is five miles south of town. We pull up, hit the target, then get your asses north as quick as you can.”

“Sounds good,” Hoser said. “Defenses?”

“Two 57-mm batteries, and those have been hit by CBUs, so they may, and I do emphasize may, not have a full compliment of guns. There's also two 23-mm batteries, and MANPADS. This is also in the East German Army-level formation's rear, so SA-4s are around.”

There were several scowls at that. “Nice, Boss,” KT said. “We getting any Weasels?”

“Nope, just us,” Guru said. “We stay low, use our ECM pods, and that should take care of Mr. SA-4. The MiG threat is still the same from this morning, by the way.”

“Just about to ask,” Kara said. “But you did mention helos?”

The CO nodded. “Hips and possible Hinds.”

“A kill's a kill,” Brainiac, Kara's WSO, said, grinning. They were always looking to add to their kill sheet.

“Don't go out of your way, though,” the CO said firmly. “Remember what I said about flak traps.”

“Got it,” Kara said.

“Good,” the CO said. “Make sure you do. Now, ordnance load and specific aimpoints. Element leads get a dozen Rockeye CBUs. Wingmates get a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes. I'll take the northern ramp area, Sweaty? You take the south.”

Sweaty nodded. “We'll get 'em, Boss.”

“Do that. Kara? You walk your bombs across the hangars. I know, they got taken out last time, but Ivan or Franz just cleared the wreckage, put new frames up, and lined them with corrugated metal. And bingo! Instant hangar.”

Brainiac looked at Kara, who nodded. “We'll take them out.”

“Okay, Hoser? I hate to leave a runway intact, but what good's a working runway if there's no fuel?” He tapped on a photo of the target. “Fuel dump's to the east of the runway. It's yours.”

Hoser and KT looked at each other and nodded. “Will do, Boss,”

“All right. We'll have the usual air-to-air load: four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Es, and we are getting Fs next week, by the way. Two wing tanks, full cannon load, and ALQ-119 pods for the leads, and -101s for the wingies,” Guru said. “Bailout areas: same as usual. Anywhere rural and away from roads.”

Kara nodded. “And after that, we take General Olds up on his 'Check ride.'”

“We do. We'll do a quick debrief and a combat turnaround, get the General geared up and ready, then we go.”

“Sounds good,” Sweaty grinned.

“One mission at a time, people!” The CO reminded them. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. “Then let's gear up. We all have somewhere to be.” As he gathered the briefing materials, Guru noticed the dog, curled up on the floor and fast asleep. “Let's hope he's like Roscoe.”

“What do you mean by that?” KT asked.

Goalie explained the story of Roscoe, the Korat mascot during the long war in SEA. “They said that if he slept through a briefing, it was an easy ride. If he woke up or paid attention? It was going to be a bad one.”

After turning in the briefing material, Guru went to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. When he came out, Goalie was there, geared up and ready. “You ready?”

“Time to fly,” she grinned. “And let's hope Buddy's the same as Roscoe.”

“You, me, and everyone else,” the CO said.

As Pilot and GIB left the office, the dog followed, but when they left the lawn, the dog sat down, as if waiting. “Good omen?” Guru asked.

“Ought to be,” Goalie replied.


CO and GIB walked to the dispersal area, and found the rest of the flight waiting at the revetment for the CO's bird, 512. “Okay, gather 'round,” Guru said. He was giving his final instructions.

“Usual procedures on the radio,” Kara said. It wasn't a question.

“Right you are.” That meant mission code to AWACS and other interested parties, but call signs between them.

“So, after this one, we get to eat some Tigersharks,” Hoser asked.

The CO frowned, then said, “One misison at a time, and remember about complacency,” he reminded them. “But.....when someone like Clancy or Pruitt-or both-declares the F-20 'Greatest since the P-51', then they need to be cut down to size.”

Kara grinned. “And we're the ones to do that.”

“Exactly,” Guru replied. “Focus on what's next, then we teach those young punks a lesson. Anything else?” Heads shook no. The CO clapped his hands. “All right! Let's go get 'em. Meet at ten grand overhead. Time to hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and found 512's Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Crowley, waiting. “Major, Lieutenant?” Crowley asked, snapping a salute. “Five-twelve's ready to rock.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” Guru said, returning the salute, as did Goalie. Pilot and GIB did their walk-around, then the CO signed for the aircraft. Then they mounted the aircraft, and the ground crew helped them get strapped in, while the crew donned their helmets and plugged in their oxygen masks and radio headsets. Then it was time for the preflight checklist.

As they went through it, Goalie said, “This one reminds me of what they told us at the Academy about strikes like ROLLING THUNDER. Hit a target, then you find out the Viets went out and repaired it, and a few days later, you hit it again.”

“Cycle repeats,” Guru acknowledged. He'd heard the same thing in OTS and in fighter training.

“It does,” Goalie said. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours. Arnie and INS?”

“All set,” replied Goalie. “Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

Guru replied, “Roger that.” He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave him the “Start Engines” signal in return. Guru hit the engine starters, and first, one, then two, J-79 engines were up and running. When the warm-up was complete, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

The tower replied at once. “Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Corvette Flight rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, who signaled to the ground crew, who pulled the chocks away from the wheels. Then Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal, and Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment. Once clear, Crowley snapped a salute, then gave another thumbs-up.

Pilot and GIB returned the salute, then Guru taxied to the runway, with the rest of the flight following. When they got to the holding area, there was a Marine F-4 flight and a Navy A-7 flight ahead of them. But before the Marines could taxi, four F-20s came in to land. “Yeager's people coming back.”

“Remind me to find out when they leave,” Guru said. “I have an idea about maybe running them out of gas, or jumping them just before they're BINGO on fuel.”

In the back seat, Goalie grinned. “You can be a sneaky bastard.”

“Got to be one when I was Exec.” Guru said as he watched the F-20s taxi off, then the Marines taxied onto the runway, then they took off. Then the Navy A-7As went, then it was their turn. In the holding area, the armorers removed the weapon safeties, and that meant their ordnance was now live. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Corvette Flight requesting clear for taxi and takeoff.”

“Corvette Flight, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-two for eight.”

“Roger, Tower.” Guru replied. He taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. A final cockpit check, then a glance at Kara and Brainiac in their Five O'clock. They gave a thumbs-up to 512's crew, and it was returned. Time. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” Goalie said as she closed and locked her canopy.

“Got it,” Guru replied, pulling his own canopy down and locked. A quick glance at 520 showed Kara's bird ready. “All set?”

“Let's go,” Goalie replied.

“Then let's do it,” Guru said. He firewalled the throttles forward, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with them. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty's element. The flight met up at FL 100, then headed south for the tanker track.
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  #367  
Old 08-12-2017, 08:16 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Next mission, and prepping for General Olds' 'Check Ride."



Over Central Texas: 1015 Hours Central War Time:


Corvette Flight was headed south, following the Brazos River, in the Nicaraguan sector. One thing that everyone noticed was that this time, the Nicaraguan AAA gunners on the east side of the river were more active than usual. This morning, instead of not shooting at all as the strike flight passed the first bridge at Granbury, the Nicaraguan gunners had opened fire, but only after the F-4s had passed the bridge. Something had stirred them up, and the crews were wondering what had happened. “Something's got them fired up-pardon the pun-this morning,” Guru said after passing the Granbury bridge.

“Yeah, and I'd like to know what,” Goalie replied. “Thirty seconds to Lake Granbury Dam. One minute to the U.S. 67 bridge.”

“Got it,” said Guru. “Flight, Lead. Watch for flak at the dam up ahead.” He then added, “Music on.” That meant to turn on their ECM pods.

“Copy, Lead,” Kara called back, and the others also acknowledged.

“Dam ahead,” Goalie called, and sure enough, the dam appeared, with bursts of flak coming. With the windy path of the Brazos, staying on the East side wasn't always possible, and ironically, the easiest way to avoid the AAA was to cut across a point where the river went to the east,and then turned back, which meant the East German sector. Despite the flak, the strike flight cleared the dam, then got back into the Nicaraguan sector. “Dam's clear.”

“Roger that!” Guru snapped.

“Thirty seconds to U.S. 67,” Goalie called.

“Got it.” Guru glanced at his RWR. Still clear. “Bridge in sight.” Again, puffs of flak-both 37-mm and 57-mm, appeared, and as the flight flew past, there was a convoy on the bridge. “One reason they're shooting.”

Goalie nodded in the back seat. “Looks that way,” she observed. “Fifteen seconds to the Brazospoint Bridge, then one minute to the Route 174 Bridge.”

“Copy.” Guru had his head on a swivel, keeping his eyes peeled for threats, checking his instruments, and doing the same with his RWR. “And Brazospoint coming up.”

It may have been a small bridge, but it was still defended, and the flak gunners opened up as the strike birds flew by. As 512 flew on, Goalie glanced back, and saw the gunners still shooting. That meant they were now in the Libyan AOR. “One minute to 174, and those are Libyans down there.”

Guru replied, “Roger that.” He then called the AWACS. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threats?”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace,” the AWACS controller replied. “Threat bearing One-six-five for sixty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-two, for seventy-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-nine-one for eighty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru called. “ETA to the 174 Bridge?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied. “Watch for the Libyans shooting.”

“Got it,” Guru said. “Bridge in sight. And they're shooting from both sides,” he calmly added.

As the strike flight overflew the bridge, not only did the AAA open up, but the crews noticed a convoy of trucks and some APCs crossing the bridge. And those on the bridge opened up as well with machine guns and small arms.

“Libyans being Libyans,” Goalie noted.

“As usual,” Guru replied. He was referring to the Libyan habit of shooting at anything that flew, and the gunners acted as if someone would outlaw the practice in the next ten minutes. Fortunately, the strike flight flew past, and as GIBs glanced backwards, the flak was still coming up. “Next turn point?”

“Over the lake. One minute,” Goalie called. She was not only using the ARN-101 DMAS, but also the INS, as well as old-fashioned dead reckoning.

“Copy,” Guru said.

The strike flight headed south, and quickly the Brazos River became Lake Whitney. Unknown to the aircrews, there were locals fishing the lake, hoping to catch some fish to supplement what the occupiers' ration quota allowed. And several of the fishermen and -women waved to the F-4s as they flew by.

“Turn point in fifteen,” Goalie called from the back seat. “And ten....five, four, three, two, one, NOW!”

Guru put 512 into a hard right turn, which put him and the rest of the flight headed for the town of Meridian. “Meridan next stop.”

“One minute thirty,” Goalie said.

Guru nodded in his cockpit, then glanced at his RWR. A search radar to the south was up and looking for them. Probably a Red AWACS. “Flight, lead. Verify you've got Music on.” He checked his ECM pod and saw that it was going.

“Two, on,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.

“Meridian coming up,” called Goalie.”Thirty seconds.”

“Got it,” Guru replied. Then the town appeared. “No flak,”

Goalie reminded him with the operative word. “Yet.”

In Meridian, the local garrison, which was Nicaraguan in this case, had been reinforced with a detachment of Soviet MVD troops. Ostensibly for rear-area security, the MVD was also watching the watchers, as some of the locals wryly observed. Relations between the two allies were tense, with the Nicaraguans content to leave the locals alone, as long as no one from the garrison was wounded or killed, while the Soviets-mainly Uzbeks and Tartars from Central Asia were more eager to show who was boss, and not just to the local population, but also the Nicaraguans garrison.

At the City Hall, a Nicaraguan Major came out of the Mayor's office, and he was not in a good mood. The Soviets were a big problem, and there was word that regular Soviet Army units were on their way, with everything that entailed, including KGB troops for traffic control. Then the local PSD officer was insistent that the Major round up several civilians for suspected “Counterrevolutionary Activity,” and the Major was reluctant to do so. He argued that doing such things would stir up Resistance activities, and so far, things were quiet. The Major then went down to the ground floor and went outside to get a breath of fresh air. A University professor in civilian life, he wondered what he was doing in this place called Texas. Of course, Nicaragua had to mobilize to fend off what the President said was a threatened Yanqui invasion, and then to help their Mexican brothers throw off the PRI yoke and bring about socialism, but going to war with America? No doubt, some of his former students had been called to the colors, and were either fighting at the front, wounded, dead, or in some American POW Camp, and the thought of those who enjoyed English Literature either in a grave on foreign soil or in a hospital back home, maimed, disturbed him.

His thoughts were interrupted when there was cheering from the civilians on the streets, as four F-4 Phantoms came over. Some of the civilians waved to the aircraft, and they waggled their wings in return. That PSD swine would probably want some of those who had cheered or waved shot, and he was not going to allow that. Shaking his head, he went back into the City Hall, and waved for a Captain and two soldiers to follow. Maybe an “accidental discharge of a weapon” into that PSD man was a good idea.


“That's Meridian,” Guru said after waggling his wings. “Hico next?”

“Affirmative,” Goalie replied. “One minute twenty-five,” she added.

“Copy that.” Guru looked at his RWR display. That Red AWACS was still there. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say closest threat.”

The reply came back at once. “Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing Two-zero-two for fifty-eight. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Crystal Palace,” Guru replied. “Say Bogey Dope?”

“Corvette, bandits are Fishbeds.” That meant MiG-21s. And probably East Germans, too.

“Copy.”

Goalie chimed in. “Forty-five seconds.” That meant the town of Hico and their next turn point.

“Got it.”

The hills and plains flew past as the strike flight headed west, generally following State Route 6. It wasn't long until they got to Hico. “Hico coming up,” Goalie advised.

“Got it. Turn in when?” Guru asked as the town got closer.

“Five, four, three, two, one, and MARK!”

Guru put the F-4 into a hard right turn, then headed north, and the rest of the flight followed.


In Hico, an East German supply convoy was just entering the town. It had been a long trip from the Port of Corpus Christi, and though there had been warnings of activity from either the counterrevolutionary bandits who called themselves the American Resistance, or from the Imperialists' own Special Forces, there had been no serious incidents-and the convoy commander was glad to be nearing his destination was few casualties or lost cargoes. the convoy approached the town called Hico, along Route 281, there was a sight that brought a chill to the East German Major. For four Ami F-4 Phantoms overflew the town, then turned north towards Stephenville. In his truck, the Major looked at his driver, who shrugged. At least we're not being attacked, the Major thought.

“Time to target?” Guru asked Goalie.

“One minute,” she replied. “Set 'em up?”

“Good girl,” Guru said. “Flight, Lead. Switches on, forty-five seconds to pull.”

The others acknowledged, then Goalie came back on the IC. “All set. We're good to go.”

“Roger that,' Guru acknowledged. “Call time to pull.”

“Thirty seconds.””

Stephenville grew closer in the windscreen. A quick glance at the RWR display showed the SA-4s still quiet. And the Soviet-manned SA-2 site was still off the air. Hopefully. “Target coming up.”

“Pull in ten,” Goalie said. “And, five, four, three, two....And....PULL!”

Guru pulled back on the stick, and climbed. Their navigation had been right on the ball, for there was the airport, below and to the right. As he climbed, the radars-both gun and missle-came up. Guru then decided to play a trick. “Coors One-Four, MAGNUM”! A few seconds later, the radars all dropped off.
He turned and lined up on the target. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight, and let's go in.”

“All set back here,” Goalie said on the IC.

“Good girl,” Guru replied. “Hold on and let's go.” He rolled in on his run.

At Stephenville City Hall, the garrison commander had actually been breathing a sigh of relief. General Metzler, the Commander of the “Kampfgruppe Rosa Luxumbourg”, had gone forward to the front, and had taken the insufferable Party man with him. Though the general was respected as a combat commander, the Political Officer was only good for spouting the latest Party line from East Berlin and not much else, and the Colonel who was now in command wasn't alone in feeling that way. Then the attitude of the local population was also an issue, as any fool could see that the fighting to the north was going bad for the Socialist Forces, and it was evident to anyone but said fool that the local population was waiting eagerly for the U.S. Army's return. It didn't help matters that the local PSD representative was now the fourth man to hold the position, as his three predecessors had met unpleasant ends (one had been shot in his car, another's home had a bomb planted inside, and the third was killed when his car ran over a roadside bomb), and the man was getting on everyone's nerves, even the garrison-who were recalled Frontier Troops, and many were hoping that the PSD swine would meet a violent end himself.

Now, in his office, the Colonel was talking with the Mayor, and it was an open secret in the town that the man was working for the Resistance. Thus far, there had been very little activity by the counterrevolutionary bandits, and both the Colonel and the Mayor wanted to keep things calm. However, the Colonel didn't know that the Mayor was biding his time, and waiting. They were discussing a plan to increase food rations for the Americans' Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas when the air raid sirens began sounding. Both the Colonel and the Mayor went to the office window and saw the first anti-aircraft fire. “What in Himmel....”

“Looks like the Air Force is coming in again,” the Mayor observed.

“Lead's in hot!” Guru called He ignored the flak coming up, and was glad to see that the SAM radars that had come up had gone off when he gave his phony “Magnum” call. Good. And if you catch on and a real Weasel's around? You'll eat a HARM....Guru lined up the northern ramp in his pipper and watched it grow as he approached his release point. He lined up a couple of Mi-8 helos and what looked like a Let-410 transport in the pipper. You'll do, Franz.....A SA-7 type missle flew past, but Guru ignored it, as he got ready. “Steady...Steady...And....NOW!” He hit the pickle button, releasing his Rockeye CBUs onto the ramp area. He pulled up and leveled off, jinking as he did so to avoid flak and any missiles. “Lead's off target.”

Both the Colonel and the Mayor watched as Guru's F-4 made its run, and they saw the CBUs going off To the Colonel, it looked like a thousand firecrackers going off on the ground, then there were three larger explosions as clearly, some of those bomblets had found targets. But what happened at the airport wasn't his responsibility, as the Air Force was in charge there. Then a second F-4 came in.

“GOOD HITS!” Goalie shouted from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How many?” Guru asked as 23-mm tracers flew past the aircraft, as did a MANPADS. Somebody's pissed off, he thought.

“Three big ones,” she replied.

That meant those two helos and the transport. Good. “Three ground kills. Time to boogie out of here.” He set course due north for the I-20.

“Two in hot!” Kara called as she went on her run. The hangars were her target, and she saw the CO go on his run, and the secondaries that followed. Good job, Boss, she thought as she lined up the southern hangars in her pipper, intending to walk her dozen Mark-82s across all three hangars. Ignoring the 23-mm and 57-mm flak coming up, she centered the pipper on the hangar in question and noted what looked like a Hind helicopter parked in front of one, and its rotors had just started turning. Your turn, she said to herself. “Steady....And....And....HACK!” Kara hit her pickle button, walking her Mark-82s across the hangar area. She pulled up and level, jinking to avoid the flak. “Two's off safe.”

“DAMMT!” The Colonel said as Kara's F-4 flew past, leaving explosions and pieces of hangars flying in its wake. He looked out around the building, and saw that many of the locals were on the streets, watching and cheering. He turned to the Mayor, who shrugged. Then the Colonel noticed a third Phantom coming in.

“SHACK!” Yelled Brainiac from 520's back seat. “Got some secondaries!”

“Good ones?” Kara asked as a large missile, an SA-4 most likely was fired, but the big missile flew over the aircraft by at least a hundred feet and much to her relief, it didn't go off. Probably too close to the launcher....

“Big and good!” Brainiac called. He, too, had noticed the missile, and breathed a sigh of relief as the SA-4 kept on going.

“I'll take those.” Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask as she picked up first the CO's smoke trail, then his bird.


Three's in!” Sweaty called as she rolled in on her run. She saw the results of Kara's run, and even saw the Hind blowing up. There were still a couple of helos on the ramp, and what looked like a pair of Su-25s. Good, she thought, even though one of the Frogfoots began to move. Not your day, Ivan or Franz....Ignoring the flak, she lined up the southern ramp in her pipper, centering one of the Frogfoots. “And...Steady....And....HACK!” Sweaty hit her pickle button, releasing her dozen Rockeye CBUs onto the ramp area. She, too, pulled up and away, jinking to avoid the flak as she did. “Three's off target,” she called.

At City Hall, the Colonel shook his head. “Of all the....” he muttered as Sweaty's F-4 made its run, leaving the CBUs going off in its wake, and at least one larger explosion as well. And both he and the Mayor could hear the cheering as that fireball climbed. Then he glanced to the south, and saw another F-4 coming in....Please, let this one be the last.

“SHACK!” Preacher shouted in the back seat.

“Good hits?” Sweaty asked as a line of 23-mm tracers passed above the aircraft.

“Great ones!” The ex-seminary student said. “You might have gotten that Frogfoot.”

“I'll take a ground kill if you will,” joked Sweaty as she headed north.


“Four in hot!” Hoser called as he came in for his run. He saw the explosions at the ramp area, and noticed one Su-25 burning, but that a second one had taxied clear and was going for the runway. If only Dave and Flossy were with us, he thought as he lined up the fuel dump in his pipper. Hoser, too, ignored the flak as the fuel dump grew larger in his pipper. A quick glance at the runway showed the Su-25 getting ready to take off. He closed off that thought as he concentrated on the bomb run. “And....Steady....And....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button and sent his twelve Mark-82s against the fuel dump. He pulled up and away, and like the others, jinking to avoid the flak and any SAMs. “Four's off target,” Hoser called.

“GOTT IN HIMMEL!” Shouted the Colonel as Hoser's F-4 finished its run, and the resulting explosions showed what the target had been, for several fuel-fed explosions followed in the Phantom's wake. He turned to the Mayor, who was trying to conceal a smile, and he heard the cheering outside his office window. And deep down, he didn't blame these people for doing so. Shaking his head, the Colonel and the Mayor resumed their conversation.

“GREAT HITS!” KT shouted. “You got the fuel dump!”

“How many secondaries?” Hoser asked as some 23-mm tracers flew by harmlessly.

KT was grinning beneath her oxygen mask. “How many do you want?”

“Too many to count's good enough,” replied Hoser. He glanced back and saw the Su-25 just climbing out from the runway. No way, Ivan. He turned north, picking up Sweaty's bird and following his element lead out.

“Whoo-hoo!” Guru said as he took a quick glance to the rear. He could see the fuel dump going up.

“Fuel dump?” Goalie asked.

“Hoser got it,” Guru replied. Now, they weren't flying for Uncle Sam, they were flying for themselves. “Time to I-20?”

“One minute forty-five,” was the reply.

“Lead, Four,” Hoser called. “A Frogfoot got off after I made my run. Can't see him.”

“Roger that, Four,” Guru replied. “Flight, Lead. Pick up your visual scanning. See if he's behind us.” Even a ground-attack bird like the Su-25 could ruin your day, for they carried AA-8 Aphid AAMs for self-defense, and still had two 30-mm cannon. Not good under the right circumstances. “Crystal Palace, Corvette Lead. Say threat.”

“Corvette Lead, Crystal Palace. Threat bearing One-nine-one for thirty. Medium, closing. Second threat...stand by one.” The controller paused, then picked up. “Second threat bearing one-eight-zero for ten. Low, steady.”

“That'll be the Frogfoot,” Goalie commented.

“It would,” Guru said. And he knew they could outrun him. “Crystal Palace, can you have a reception committee if he gets closer?”

“Copy that, Corvette,” the controller replied. “Bandits at One-nine-one for twenty-five. Medium, closing. Bandits are Fishbeds.”

“Copy,” Guru said.

“One minute to I-20,” Goalie added.

The AWACS called up a flight of F-16s. “Puncher Three-one, Crystal Palace. Bandits bearing One-seven-eight for thirty. Medium, closing. Kill. Repeat: KILL. Clear to arm, clear to fire.”

“Roger that!” A female voice came over the frequency. “Puncher Three-one copies.”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie said. That meant the I-20. Just then, the F-4 crews saw four F-16s pass overhead, heading south.

“Go get some,” Kara muttered in her cockpit. Oh, for another dogfight and another Red Star on the side of 520. Maybe next time, she knew.

Goalie checked her navigation in 512's rear seat. “Thirty seconds,” she called.

“Got it,” Guru replied. Then the F-16s came over the radio as they waded into the MiG-21s. Two of the East Germans went down, then one of the F-16s, then one more East German, with the surviving MiG running for his base.

“Puncher Three-four is down,” Three-one called. “Good chute.”

“Roger, Puncher Three-one,” AWACS called. “Will notify Jollys.” That meant the Jolly Greens, the CSAR choppers.

“Damn it,” Guru growled as he heard the fight.

“Can't win them all,” Goalie reminded him. “I-20 dead ahead.”

The twin ribbons of Interstate appeared, with Army supply convoys moving in both directions, and this time, the strike flight's egress route was away from the I-20 bridges over the Brazos, with their attendant I-HAWK SAM sites. And those pukes, everyone knew, had the “shoot them down and sort them out on the ground later,” attitude. “Crossing the Fence,” Guru called. “We're clear.”

“Good,” Goalie said. Then she gave the course for the tanker track over Mineral Wells.

The flight formed up and headed for the tankers, with both KC-10s and KC-135s in their orbits, and protected by F-15s and F-16s. Ivan had tried on numerous occasions to get at the tankers, and had failed for the most part. Though every once in a while, someone got lucky, and a KC-135 became a very big fireball.

After the refueling, the flight headed back to Sheppard. When they got into the pattern, it was full, as both outbound and inbound flights were making the base very busy. Guru checked the outbound flights to see if the F-20s were among them, and he was disappointed that they were not. After landing, they taxied in, and as usual, the news crew was filming. “Don't they ever stop?” Guru asked.

“You must be joking,” Goalie said.

“Somebody will use the footage, I guess,” Guru replied. Then they taxied into the squadron's dispersal, and found the F-20s still in their revetments. But everyone noticed the ground crews beginning to clear, and it was obvious: the F-20s were getting ready to depart. Good. Then the flight found their own revetments and taxied in. When Guru taxied 512 into its revetment and shut down, he let out a sigh of relief. “That's done.”

“And we're going after the F-20s next,” Goalie reminded him.

“That we are,” Guru said as he popped his canopy and Goalie did the same. “Business before pleasure, though.” They went through the post-flight checklist, then the ground crew brought the crew ladder. Pilot and GIB stood in their cockpits and stretched, then climbed down. A ground crewmember offered both bottles of water, and they gratefully accepted.

“Major, my bird come back without a scratch?” Sergeant Crowley asked. Crew Chiefs never hesitated to remind crews that the crew chief “owned” the aircraft, and the crew merely borrowed it.

“She's doing fine, Sergeant,” said Guru. The CO did a quick walk-around, then nodded. “You do know about the, uh, 'Check ride” for General Olds?”

His Crew Chief nodded back. “Yes, sir. Captain Van Loan told me and the other Chiefs. Fifteen minute turnaruond, Major.”

“Don't waste anymore time, Sergeant,” Guru said. “Let's get her ready to skin those Tigersharks.”

“You got it, Major!” Crowley beamed. “All right, people! Get the CO's bird ready to fly.”

Pilot and GIB walked to the entrance of the revetment, and found a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup there, with not just Sin Licon, the SIO, but also Don Van Loan, the Ops Officer, and General Olds with Chief Ross and the news crew. And the mascot, Buddy. They noticed that General Olds was already in full flight gear. “General,” Guru said. “Guess you're ready to go.”

“I am, Major,” Olds said as the rest of the flight came over. “First things first, though: your Intel wants a debrief,”

“Then let's get it over with,” Guru said as Kara came up.

“Boss, I think you got a couple of helos and a Let-410 on your run,” she said. “Saw the secondaries as we rolled in.”

“I think everybody got a ground kill or two on this one,” Sweaty chimed in. “All but Hoser, that is.”

Hoser and KT shrugged. “Better luck next time,” Hoser said.

“Let's get this done, please,” said Licon. They went over the mission, and just as they were wrapping up, the F-20s began taxiing out.

Guru noticed that, and checked his watch. He hit the stopwatch function. “Okay, they've got forty-five minutes' endurance from wheels up. I want to catch them when they're maybe two, three minutes shy of Ms. Betty bitching 'Bingo fuel.'”

Olds knew the tactic. “Major, you want to teach them something about fuel management, among other things, I take it?”

“Yes, sir, I do,” replied the CO. “People, treat these guys like they're MiG-21s. Keep the fight in the vertical if at all possible. Don't turn with them.”

The rest of the crews recognized that at once. “Keep it in the vertical,” Kara said. It wasn't a question.”

General Olds nodded. “You're right on that, Captain. Go high, go low, but do not turn with them. Keep things in the vertical if at all possible.”

“They've also got all-aspect Sidewinders,” Van Loan reminded them. “Keep that in mind as you go.”

“Noted, Don,” Guru said. “Did they join with a tanker when you were with them?”

The Ops Officer shook his head. “Negative on that, Boss. Tankers were all busy.”

“Okay...” the CO thought aloud. “I'll talk to the AWACS. See if those punks did ask for a vector to a tanker. If they did, we wait a few, then go in. If not...”

Kara grinned. “Ducks on the pond.”

“Be careful, Captain,” Olds said. “Overconfidence, even in DACT, is a bad thing, Be aware of that.”

“Yes, sir,”

Guru turned to his Ops Officer. “Don, who's in Prada's back seat?”

“Dave Golen,” Van Loan replied. Their IDF “Observer” would be making a report back to Tel Aviv on the F-20, and that would no doubt make Northrop very happy about a possible sale to the Israeli AF after the war.

Then they heard the rumble of the F-20s' F404 engines as they rolled down the runway into the air. “Starting the clock,” Guru said. “Best I can figure, they've got twenty minutes' playtime in the old Scud Box before they head back.”

“Ten minutes to get there, ten back with a five minute reserve,” Brainiac noted.

“So when do we go?” Sweaty asked.

Guru did some quick calculations in his head. “General, how does ten minutes from now sound?”

“Sounds good to me, Major,” said Olds. “I'm riding with you.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru replied. “Goalie's with Kara on this one,” said the CO. “Sorry, Brainiac, you're odd man out this time.”

“Oh, well,” Kara's GIB shrugged. “Somebody has to.”

“What's the rules, Major?” Olds asked.

“Sir, I'm glad you asked. Keep things above five grand AGL and everything's copectic. Five seconds' lock with whatever weapon you're calling is enough for a kill. And be careful, people! Paint transfer at altitude is bad news, okay?”

“What about Party Crashers?” Goalie asked.

“If they've got red stars on their tails, fight's on,” Guru nodded. “That satisfies the no-combat directive.”

General Olds nodded. “That's how I read it, Major.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Guru. “Anything else?”

Kara spoke up. “Who's buying tonight?”

“Losers,” Sweaty replied.

“Hopefully, they will,” KT added.

Major Wiser let out a grin. “That's the idea, folks. Anything else?” Heads shook no. He turned to General Olds, who nodded. “Then let's hit it, people. And teach those young punks a thing or two.”

“Let's go and do it, Major,” Hoser said.

Guru nodded. “Yeah, let's. Meet at ten grand overhead. Time to fly.”

“Hey, look at Buddy,” Preacher said. The dog had not slept during the brief, and was paying attention. “It may be a friendly round, but some of us may be 'killed.'”

“Hope not,” Goalie said.

“Same here,” the CO said. “Let's go.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, the news crew following the CO and General Olds as they went to 512. And Sergeant Crowley was surprised to see a Two-star General coming to fly on “his” aircraft. “General,” he said as he snapped a salute. “Major. Five-twelve's ready to go.”

“Thanks, Sarge,” General Olds said. He turned to the CO. “Major, you're still the AC. I'm just along for the ride.”

“Yes, sir,” Guru said. He and Olds did a quick preflight walk-around, and then Crowley helped him get General Olds in the back seat.

“Anything special, Major?” Olds asked.

“Sir, there's only three things I may need from you. One and two happen to be turning the radar on and off. The third would be going boresight on the radar so I can get a quick system lock.”

“Understood, Major,” Olds replied.

Guru nodded, hopped down, then mounted his own cockpit. The two went through the preflight as if it was for a prewar incentive ride, then it was time for engine start. He gave a thumbs-up to Sergeant Crowley, who gave the “Start Engines” signal. One, then two, J-79 engines were soon up and running.

“How's that feel, sir?” Guru asked the General.

“Major, it may be twenty-five years since my last flight in a fighter, but you never forget. It feels good back here,” Olds replied.

“General, if you're pleased, then so am I,” replied the CO. “Tower, Corvette Flight with four, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi to Runway Three-Five-Lima. Hold prior to the active, and you are number two in line,” the controller called.

“Roger, Tower,” Guru said. He gave another thumbs-up to Crowley, who waved to the ground crew. They pulled the chocks away from the landing gear, then Crowley gave the “taxi” signal.

Guru released the brakes, and taxied out of the revetment. As 512 cleared the revetment, Sergeant Crowley snapped a perfect salute, which Guru and General Olds returned. Then the CO taxied to the runway, with the other three F-4s following.

When the flight got to the holding area, there was a Marine Hornet flight ahead of them. After the Marines took off, it was their turn to taxi to the holding area. Guru taxied to the holding area, and the armorers removed the weapon safeties. They had four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Es, a full load of 20-mm, and the appropriate ECM pod for leaders and wingmates. Not that they hoped to use any, but General Yeager's encounter with a recon flight the previous day showed that combat could happen anywhere. Unlike a regular combat mission, the wing tanks were left off, for all they would do in this case was provide drag. Then it was time to taxi for takeoff. “Tower, Corvette Lead with four, requesting clear to taxi for takeoff.”

“Corvette Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-seven-eight for ten. Good luck, General,” added the controller.

“Roger that, Tower,” Olds handled the reply. “And thank you.”

Guru taxied onto the runway, and then Kara and Goalie taxied 520 onto their right wing. Guru glanced over, as did the General, and they saw both Kara and Goalie give a thumbs-up. They returned it, then after a quick check, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Corvette Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Ready, sir?” Guru asked his VIP (Very Important Passenger).

“Ready back here, Major,” Olds responded. “Canopy coming down.”

Both closed and locked their canopies, and a quick glance at 520 showed Kara and Goalie had done the same. Then Guru went to full throttle, released the brakes, and 512 rolled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right alongside. Sweaty and Hoser followed thirty seconds later, then they met at FL 100 and headed west, towards the old Scud Box.
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  #368  
Old 08-12-2017, 08:27 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Location: Auberry, CA
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General Olds' "Check Ride", and some DACT with the F-20s:



Over Northern Texas, near Childress, 1100 Hours Central War Time:


Corvette Flight approached the old Scud Box, intent on finding the F-20s. Due to traffic headed to and from Amarillo-the two full F-4 Wings in Tenth AF were based there-the actual area in the box that was open for any kind of DACT was limited. Still, Guru wanted to know where the F-20s were, and instead of calling the AWACS, which, he knew, the F-20s would be listening in, called up a couple of F-4 flights headed to or from Amarillo to see if they had noticed the Tigersharks. The two flights in question hadn't, but one of the flight leaders, an ex-IIAF Major in the 306th TFS, thought he might know someone who had, and called up another flight that was inbound. Sure enough, word got to Corvette Flight that the F-20s were in the central part of the Box, and had been aggressively playing not just with each other, but had challenged some of the ex-IIAF guys to fights-and the F-20s had won, much to the regret of the 306th. One of the Iranians told Guru to “Uphold the honor of the F-4,” and Guru had said he'd try.


Now, Corvette Flight was headed south, towards the center of the old box, and only one radar was on: Kara's. “Two, Lead,” Guru said over the radio. “You find 'em for us. Call out when you have bogeys.”

“Copy, Lead,” Kara replied. In 520's back seat, Goalie turned on the APQ-120 radar and began searching for targets. Though the radar could generally detect a bomber-sized target up to 40 miles away, going after fighters meant about half that. Still.....

“Nothing yet,” Goalie called. One feature of the F-4 was that, originally, there had been two rated pilots in the aircraft, and the backseater had full radio controls. She was now the eyes of the flight.

Sweaty got on the radio. “Lead, Three,” she called. “Any ideas?”

“Flight, Lead.” Guru responded. “They can see us before we see them, no thanks to these engines. Try and stay up-sun if you can.”

In 512's back seat, General Olds recalled an old WW II adage: “Beware the Hun in the Sun.” “Just like in Europe, Major.”

“Yes, sir. Still applies today,” Guru noted. Then he had an idea. Maybe the AWACS would tell, and remind the F-20 guys that peacetime DACT rules applied. “Warlock, Corvette Lead.”

“Corvette Lead, Warlock,” the AWACS controller replied. “Go.”

“Warlock, any Tigersharks around?” The way he put the question, it would be clear to the controller that Guru was looking for a pickup DACT session.
“Affirmative, Corvette. On your nose, thirty-five miles, Medium.”

“Roger that, Warlock. If they call, remind them peacetime rules apply.”

“Copy, Corvette,” replied the controller.

In the E-3B, the controller turned to the Senior Controller, an ex-F-4 driver who had a serious back injury from a prewar ejection and that had meant he could never fly an ejection seat aircraft again. “These F-4s are looking for Yeager's people.”

“Five bucks says they get the drop on them,” the Major replied.

“You're on.”


“Sweaty, Guru. You and Hoser go high. I'll take Kara and go low. People, if they try and lock you up, do a Doppler Break, then turn into 'em.”

“Roger, Lead,” Sweaty called. “Hoser, on me.” The two F-4s climbed, while the lead element went low. With both searching for targets, either with the radar, TIESO, or visually with the Mark-one eyeball.


To the south, the F-20s had been doing ACT with each other.

In Prada's bird, the two-seat D, IDF Major Dave Golen was very impressed with the aircraft. “You know, Goria Epstein would love this plane.”

In the front seat, Prada asked, “Who's he?”

“Just our top ace from the Six-Day War, War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War, with seventeen kills. All in Mirages or Neshers. But some of your guys have passed his total,” Golen said. He checked the radar display and wondered what “Hawkeye” as Espstein was known, would think of the F-20. Maybe after the war, Northrop could send a demonstration flight to Israel.....

“This is a pure dogfighter, I'll admit,” Prada said. “Not much capacity for air-to-ground ordnance, though we've done that a lot. We've got short legs, but we've done well so far.”

Golen nodded in the back seat. “And your impressions of Clancy and Pruitt?” He, too, like some of Major Wiser's people, wondered just how old they were. Then again, the CO pointed out that some people held their age pretty well.

“They're good at what they do. Their antics over Altus as PRAIRIE FIRE pushed south, making ace in a day, prove that. Both know how to use their aircraft, but they do like to take risks.” She paused for a moment, then went on, watching the objects of their conversation do some ACT with General Yeager watching from above. “Honestly, though, with the losses the 474th has taken, they've climbed the ladder a little too fast for my taste.”

“Worried?”

“Can't say I'm thrilled, but not surprised they took with Yeager when he asked for both of them to come to this detail.”

Golen had a chuckle. “Leaving you behind?”

“No,” she replied. “Well, just a little. The brass has a very good reason for the no-combat order, though. The Yak, though, was unavoidable. The General should be in another two-seater, but he has the rank, and Clancy and Pruitt have the experience.”

Then the AWACS controller came on the radio. “Showroom Flight, Warlock. A flight of Foxtrot-Fours is transiting the area.”

In his F-20C, Clancy laughed. “So the Phantom Phanatics want to play?”

“Careful,” Yeager warned. “Say your fuel state.” Yeager checked his own fuel, and saw he only had four or five minutes' fuel left.

“Got five minutes,” Clancy replied.

“Same here,” Pruitt added.

“Four,” Prada chimed in.

“Warlock, Showroom Lead. Say composition?” Yeager asked.

“Showroom, Corvette Flight is inbound with four. Two radar, four heat, and full gun,” the Controller replied.

“Warlock, can you vector us onto them?”

“Negative. Peacetime rules apply.” This was from the senior controller himself.


In 512, Guru was listening in on the AWACS frequency. So, if that's your game.....”Showroom Lead, Corvette Lead. Five seconds' lock with whatever weapon you're calling is a kill. Keep everything above five grand AGL and everything's copectic.”

“Prada?” Yeager called. “You want to do the honors?”

“My pleasure, Lead,” she replied. Then she called the F-4s. “Screw you, flyboy, and flygirl, if Starbuck's with you.”

“You're not my type,” Kara shot back, and Goalie laughed. Then she got serious.

“Twelve miles.”

“Your choice,” Guru added. “Fight's on!”

“Let's go get 'em,” Clancy said.


“Sweaty,” Guru called. “You and Hoser stay high, Kara? On me.” He went down low, pulling up just before 5,000 and leveling off at 5050 feet.

“Roger that,” Sweaty replied. “They're trying to lock me up!” Then she remembered the Doppler Break, going hard left, and Hoser went with her.

“Four hits on scope,” Goalie called from 520. “Two at Twelve, two at One.”

“Twelve will be Yeager and his wingman,” General Olds said.

“General,” Guru said, “Can you get the radar on, and once it's on, go boresight?”

“My pleasure, Major.” Olds worked the controls, and by God, it did come back. “Radar on, and you're boresighted.”

“Thanks, General,” replied Guru. He turned on the auto-acquisition, hoping to lock the nearest F-20 up....


“Two, you and three break left,” Yeager told Clancy. “Prada, with me.” He broke right, with Prada right with him. “Prada, go active on radar, and pick them out.”

“Roger that,” Prada replied. She called up the radar on her MFD and began scanning. “Two at Twelve, two at Eleven. One pair high, one low.”

“Got one,” Clancy called. He called up his radar missiles and tried to lock up one of the F-4s. Then he saw both of them do a hard break, and recognized the tactic at once. “They're doing a Doppler Break!”

“Steady, Two,” Pruitt called. “I got one.....” He locked up the trailing F-4 in that element. “And...FOX ONE on the trailer.”

In their bird, Hoser and KT unclipped their oxygen masks. “Damn it!” he called. “Four's been splashed. And under the rules, he had to leave the area for two minutes before coming back in. “We're on our way out.


“Shit!” Sweaty called over the radio. “I need some help here.”

“On our way,” Guru called. Both he and General Olds had their eyes out of the cockpit, swiveling around. “Starbuck, got tally?”

“No joy,” she replied.

“General, could you go boresight, if you would?” Guru asked. The request was a polite order.

“Gladly,” Olds replied. “You're set.”

“Thank you, sir,” Guru said as he scanned the sky. “Tally two at One, low.”

In 520, Kara grinned. “That'll be Clancy and Pruitt,” she said.

“Watch it,” Goalie replied. She was keeping her own head on a swivel, trying to check six.

“Sweaty, where are you?” Guru asked as he rolled in on the two F-20s.

Sweaty was above, making some S-turns and jinking, trying to run Yeager out of fuel, as he was closing in. “Got some trouble here, but I can handle it.” She then pulled back on the stick and pulled up into a Vector Roll to the right, hoping to turn the tables on her attacker.

“Copy that,” Guru said as he rolled in on the two. “I got the one on the right.” That meant Pruitt.

“I got the other one,” Kara said. You are mine, she said to herself as the two F-20s broke.


Clancy swore. These F-4 guys were good. And all of them, pilots and GIBs, were aces. “Break!” he called to Pruitt. And both F-20s broke, Clancy left, and Pruitt right.

“I got him,” Guru called as he went to RADAR and tried to lock Pruitt up. And the tone signaled in his headset. “Fox One on Pruitt.”

Pruitt cursed aloud. “Shit!” He, too, had to leave the area. He checked his fuel. Maybe time for one pass on the way back.....

“Got him!”

“Lead, Break!” Sweaty called. “Prada's on you!”

Unknown to either him or General Olds, Prada had snuck in while Guru was taking his shot on Pruitt. She had taken advantage of the F-4's bad rear visibility, but had made a big mistake. She had target fixation and was trying to line up a gun shot.

“Roger that!” Guru called, and he, too, applied power and pulled up into a left vector roll, forcing Prada to overshoot.


“Where'd he go?” Prada wondered aloud. She was trying to pick up the F-4, and she knew by the tailcode it was Guru she had been after.

“Can't see him,” Dave Golen said. He, too, had been scanning. “He's in the sun!”

Hearing that, General Yeager started to scan himself. He saw Sweaty make her one mistake-she had leveled out and reversed her turn-probably so that she could clear her CO's tail. “And Fox two on Sweaty,” Yeager called in his West Virginia twang.

“Damn it!” Sweaty called as she and Preacher yanked off their oxygen masks. They, too, had to pull out for two minutes before coming back in.

Just then, Guru came out of the sun and right behind Prada.

“He's behind you, Prada,” Yeager called, his voice calm over the radio.

“Where?” Prada asked as she swiveled her head to take a look.


“Nice try, girl,” Guru said as he lined her up in his pipper, the Sidewinder's growl very loud in his headset. “Fox two on Prada.”


“I think we're dead,” Dave Golen said calmly.

“Fuck!” Prada shouted over the IC. “We're out,” she called as she, too, vacated the area.


Below, Kara in 520 was chasing Clancy, who was all over the sky, trying to shake his pursuer. He had made one mistake, namely, letting her get too close, but had managed to deny her the killing shot. “He's good,” Kara said over the IC.

“Maybe too good.” Goalie said. She had her eyes out of the cockpit, looking for Yeager. “Guru, six clear?”

“Your six is clear, Two,” Guru replied. “Take him.”


“Need some help here,” Clancy called.

“On you,” Yeager replied. He dove in, glancing at his fuel state. One minute's fuel before breaking off....


“Got him...” Kara said as the F-20 leveled out and headed east. Had to be low on fuel...... “Going heat....and....FOX TWO! Sorry, Clancy.”

“Shit!” Clancy called over the open radio. Then a voice called in his headset. “Bingo Fuel. Bingo Fuel.”

“Shut up, bitch. I know I'm low.” He headed east, towards Sheppard.


“We got him!” Kara yelled.

“You did, Two,” Olds called. “Break right! Yeager's coming down.”

They barely had time to look before an F-20 came out of the sun. “Fox two on Kara,” Yeager's drawl sounded on the radio.


“He got us,” Goalie said.

“Better him than one of those punks,” Kara sighed as she headed out of the area.


“Prada is bingo,” they heard, then both Clancy and Pruitt made similar calls.


Guru turned to try and line up Yeager, but a “Bingo” call from Yeager ended that idea. He pulled up and orbited as Hoser, then Sweaty, and two minutes later, Kara, came in. “Lead,” Kara called. “That didn't go the way we thought.”

“No kidding,” Sweaty added. “Those guys were good.”

“Too good,” Hoser chimed in. “Where'd those two learn to fly and fight like that?”

“General, I'd like to know myself,” Guru said. “Looks like we learned a couple of things. And eat some humble pie.”

“Both sides will,” Olds said. “Honors were even here.”

“They were,” Guru said. “Let's go home.”


The AWACS controller turned to his Senior Controller, palm extended.

The Major took out his wallet, paid what he owed, and wondered, what had gone down with those guys?


Corvette Flight returned to Sheppard, and when they got back, found they had to wait in the pattern, for there were several strikes coming back and heading out. Once the pattern was clear, they came in and landed. As they taxied in, the crews noticed the F-20 guys were waiting. “No disrespect, General,” Guru said, “Those guys look like they're trying to rub it in.”

“Not a surprise, Major,” Olds said. “You people expected to clean up, and instead....”

“Better this way, sir, than in combat. I'd be writing a few letters if this had been real.”

“No arguing that, Major.”


The flight taxied to their squadron dispersal, and found their revetments. Guru taxied 512 into its revetment, and after going through the shut down routine, popped his canopy, and Olds did the same. Sergeant Crowley came up with the crew ladder as they went through a post-flight check. “Sergeant,” Guru said. “Didn't go the way we thought.”

“Major?” Crowley asked. “What the...”

“Three of theirs, and three of ours,” Guru said as he climbed down the crew ladder, with the General following suit. Both accepted bottles of water from the ground crew.

“First fight I've been in-real or training, where everyone involved was an ace,” Olds nodded. He took a drink of water. “General Yeager, and those three young pups.” Then he remembered. “And Major Golen.”

Crowley nodded. “Sir, that would've been something to see.”

“It was,” Guru said. “Get her turned around, Sergeant,” he told his Crew Chief. “Next one's for real.”

“Yes, sir!”

As the ground crew started the turnaound, Major Wiser and General Olds went to the entrance of the revetment, and found the rest of the flight waiting. “Well?”

“Where'd they learn to fly and fight like that?” Kara asked. And that was a question on everyone's mind. “They fly like there's no tomorrow.”

Sweaty nodded. “So do we,” she reminded them. “We fly Double-Ugly like we stole them, and those punks....”

'”That we do,” Hoser added.

Then a Dodge Crew-Cab pickup pulled up, with Chief Ross and Buddy aboard. “General? Major? General Yeager's people want to debrief.”

“General?” Guru asked, and saw Olds nod. “Okay, let's get over there.” All eight piled into the truck, and Ross drove them back to the Squadron Office. When they got to the Briefing Room used after the affair with the recon flight, they found the F-20 people waiting.

“Well, Major,” Yeager said. “Looks like things didn't go your way,”

“No, sir,” Guru admitted. “You had the AWACS tell you we were coming.”

Yeager nodded. “After that recon flight, I thought it was a good idea to be warned about party crashers-friendly or otherwise.

Kara had a scowl on her face. “General, you got me at the end, And you had to be short on fuel.”

“Thirty seconds from Bingo,” Yeager admitted. “You people did teach us one thing about fuel management. Yeager had been the last to make a “Bingo” call and break off.

“You knew about our radar missiles,” Clancy pointed out.

“We did,” Sweaty replied. “You got Hoser right from the get-go, but you forgot about the Doppler Break.”

“Anti-F-15 tactic,” KT chimed in. “Too bad we did it too late. You had us.”

“They did,” Hoser said.

“Well, that's that,” Clancy said. “Now that's two you have on me.”

Heads turned to Clancy. “Two?” Pruitt asked.

“The pool match,” he reminded them. “I'll get you one of these days.”

“Maybe,” Kara replied.

General Olds turned to Prada. “You should have taken a Sidewinder shot,” he told her. “You would've had us.”

“Yes, sir,” said Prada. “But with Dave Golen in the back seat, and you know how the Israelis value gun kills....”

Guru recognized it at once. “You had target fixation, and tried to line up a gun kill. Those are good, but you had missiles and didn't use them.”

“It's what they're there for,” Yeager added.

“Guilty,” Prada said. Now, she was thinking very seriously about taking that IP assignment in California. Even though this had been a pickup DACT round, she knew full well had it been real, she would be either hanging in a chute at least, if not dead. “I got greedy and tried showing off.”

“Don't,” Clancy told her. “Just take the shot and kill 'em dead. Remember, we didn't hunt those ZSU-30s with CBUs, rockets, and guns because we wanted to. We did it because we had no other choice, being short on Maverick and Shrike.”

Yeager nodded. “He's got a point.”

“Throw in some complacency on both sides,” General Olds reminded everyone. “Both sides came in very overconfident.”

“General, I'd say so,” Guru said. “This is the first time I know of where everyone in a DACT is an ace, either pilot or GIB.”

Kara nodded. “You've got Phantom Jockeys here who fly Double-Ugly like they stole it. And you fought us to a draw.”

“And you taught us a lesson in fuel management,” Yeager said. “We were short on fuel when you came calling.”

Clancy nodded. '”If we had belly tanks, it would've been four-to-one your favor. Drag from the tanks would've held us back. I probably have Frank Carson to thank for that. I wanted CBUs on the centerline, but he suggested we take the tank.”

Yeager agreed. “We run low pretty fast. I'll talk to the guys at Northrop and see if they can get some more fuel tankage added after the war. But you go to war with what you have, not what you want to have.”

There was no argument there. “Point taken,” General Olds said. “Anything else?” He saw everyone stay quiet. “Major Golen, how about you?”

“It was a hell of a ride,” Golen said. “Can't promise anything, but we might want to have you bring a couple of these to Israel after the war. Don't know what use we may have for them, but the IDF doesn't have a dedicated aggressor squadron. Might be a good idea..,' he mused.

“Interesting take,” Olds said. “Major? He turned to Guru. “Anything to add?”

“Just that this was a shock to everyone involved. We all learned some lessons today,” Guru replied. Was it like this for Nagumo after Midway, or the guys in the Philippines who hadn't taken much of the Zero, only to find out on Day One that yes, the Japanese could build a very capable fighter-the hard way.

Yeager nodded agreement. “That we did.”

“All right: Major, I believe your people have missions scheduled in the afternoon?? Olds asked.

“Yes, sir, we do. My people? Let's get something to eat, check your desks, because in an hour or so, we're back at it for real.”
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:42 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Anyone surprised how the DACT turned out?
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